Tuesday, 7 February 2012



A)          BATATA VADA

Ingredients for the filling:

     1)    Potato – 1 kg.
     2)    Hot green chilies – 5 Nos.
     3)    Tender ginger – ½ inch piece
     4)    Tender curry leaves – 3 sprigs
     5)    Urad dal (slit black gram lentils) – 1 teaspoon
     6)    Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
     7)    Any cooking oil – 1½ teaspoons
     8)    Salt – 1 teaspoon
     9)    Coriander leaves – of 1 plant (optional)
     10)     Lime – ½

Ingredients for the batter:

     1)    Chickpea flour – 500 gm.
     2)    Hot red chili powder – 1 teaspoon
     3)    Turmeric powder - ½ teaspoon
     4)    Asafoetida powder – ¼ teaspoon
     5)    Salt – 1 teaspoon
     6)    Coconut oil or other cooking oil – to deep fry

To prepare:

          Wash the potatoes and put them into a pressure cooker (it is better to select medium sized potatoes for uniform cooking). Pour in enough water to cover the potatoes. Put on the lid and set on high heat. As soon as you hear the first whistle, turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Switch off the heat and let cool naturally, giving the potatoes the right time to finish the cooking process.

          Once the steam has subsided enough to open the lid, drain off the stock. Peel the potatoes, mash nicely and set aside. Pluck off the stems of the green chilies. Chop the chilies to superfine bits. Peel the ginger and chop to powdery pieces. Pluck the curry leaves from their sprigs and chop to superfine pieces.

          Set a thick wok on high heat. Pour in the cooking oil and throw in the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds are about to finish crackling, tip in the urad dal. Stir till the dal turns a light brown. Tip in the curry leaves, the ginger, the chilies and the salt. Stir once and put in the mashed potatoes.

          Stir nicely till everything is mixed thoroughly. Switch off the heat and squeeze in the lime juice. Pluck the coriander leaves from the plant and tip them in (optional). Stir nicely and set aside to cool down enough to touch. Make lime sized balls and set aside.

          Put the chickpea flour, the red chili powder, the turmeric powder, the salt (1 teaspoon) and the asafoetida powder into a food processor. Add a little water and blend to a thick batter of a consistency slightly thicker than pancake batter. Transfer it to a bowl.

To fry:

          Set a wok with oil to deep fry on high heat. As soon as the oil is hot and about to smoke (you should not allow it to smoke since such overheated oil is not good for health), dip each potato ball in the batter and roll it around to coat it fully. Release gently into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the wok but leave a little space to turn the balls in order to fry them evenly on all sides.

          Turn and fry till their jackets are crispy and golden orange in colour. Lift out and drain off the excess oil.

Serve warm as a welcome snack or as vada pav.

B)          VADA PAV

          Batata Vada is the basic ingredient of vada pav, a popular, delicious, Maharashtrian must-be-eaten street food. The other two ingredients are 1) pav or a small, salty, soft, rectangular bread of around bun thickness which is split into two halves to form the vada sandwich and 2) a deep-fried hot green chili as an accompaniment. The chili is split lengthwise on one side, sprinkled with powdered salt and left to marinate. As the juice of the salted chili starts to ooze out (if it doesn’t, just sprinkle a few drops of water), chick pea flour is sprinkled and mixed nicely (use a glove). The chili is then deep-fried in cooking oil. Chili lovers take a bite of vada pav followed by a tiny bite of the hot chili, say ‘Aah!’ and bite the vada pav again with relish.

          So dear viewers, whenever you visit North India, do remember to try out vada pav and pav bhaji (bread toasted in butter with a dollop of delicious specially cooked vegetables) from the street food vendors at Mumbai (Bombay), Pune and elsewhere. Whenever you think of India, your mouth will water for sure and you will feel hungry for more!



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