{Recipe (Guest Post): Vada Pav}

Did you know that I have a bucket list?  Yes, it’s true.  I have a bucket list of things that I want to cook by the end of 2011.

One item on the list is a layered cake.  I’m terrified of making one, because, until recently, I wasn’t much of a baker.  The idea of not only having to make the layers and the icing… but then actually ICE THE CAKE… well, it still makes me a bit nervous.  But I’m going to do it!  I promise!

Another item on the list is Indian food.  I want to make one authentic Indian dish before 2012 rolls around.  It could be matar paneer masala or fish with a traditional curry sauce, but I want to make something that is up there with some of the best Indian restaurants I’ve eaten at.  Again, the idea of this scares me.  But gosh darn it, I’m going to do it!

In the meantime, however, I am bringing you a guest post from my dear friend and talented food blogger, Prerna of Indian Simmer, who, as you can tell from looking at her beautiful blog, cooks only Indian recipes.  Her photographs are nothing short of stunning and her posts are always so informative.

So now I leave you in Prerna’s very reliable hands.  Enjoy!

I don’t remember how Brian and I got to know each other. I came across his blog first or he came across mine. But something I clearly remember is that as soon as I saw the gorgeous work he was doing on his website, I was hooked! Every few days I had to get my dose of A Thought For Food. I went back again to look at his photography and go, “Gosh, I wanna take that shot!” To read his stories and think, “Yes, that’s exactly what happened to me.” And today here I am, back on A Thought For Food, but this time I’m the one talking. Brian, thanks for the honor!

It’s the 4th of July and you must either be on a vacation with the family, out having a picnic or back in your backyard firing up the grill. This is when you can steal some time and enjoy it with people you love and care about. I too am celebrating with the tiny little family of mine. And while climbing the tree with your little one or chasing her in an open field, come pouring the memories of childhood.

I remember as children we did not have the luxury of getting away every long weekend. We had to wait the whole year for the summers to come until there were summer vacations. Every summer vacation our parents would take us to a new place. A new city every summer. India is a country of diverse cultures and one part of the country is so different from the other. So every trip used to be a new experience. Every summer used to be different from the previous. This one summer we went to Bombay (now Mumbai), the big city with the ocean, local trains, bustling streets and vada pav! Vada Pav was the first thing that we ate at the train station as soon as we stepped into the city. I remember me and my dad loving it so much that we ate just vada pav for the next three days! A fried potato dumpling sandwiched between two pieces of a pav (bread). It was good and its taste lasted long – until today!

It’s a hugely popular street food in India and has its origins in the state of Maharashtra. For the vada pav you need some potatoes – don’t ask what kind. In India back then if you asked for potatoes you’d get potatoes. No Russets, Yukons or Idahos, just potatoes. So out of two most important things for vada pav, one is potato and the second is pav. Pav is the dinner roll you use at your home every day. But it was not before I bit into the vada pav I made for this post that I realized that there was a third very important ingredient. That is this dry red coconut and garlic chutney. I forgot to make it before taking photos but very soon I realized the mistake, so please try and make this chutney to accompany your vada pav.

Vada Pav


For Vada (potato dumplings)

3 medium sized potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed)

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tbsp ginger paste

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp turmeric powder

¾ cup chickpea flour

½ tsp cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying


Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds to it.

Once the mustard seeds start to pop, add ginger paste, mix with oil and then add cayenne pepper, salt, turmeric and potatoes.

Mix everything well together and mash the potatoes well, not leaving any big pieces.

Set aside and let it cool a little.

Now divide the potato filling into equal sizes and make balls out of it (this makes around 10- 12 balls)

In a mixing bowl, mix chickpea flour, salt and ½ tsp cayenne pepper. Add water and whisk well so that there are no lumps. Make a batter off of it. Batter should be of consistency similar to that of pancake batter.

Drop potato balls first in the batter coating them with the batter and then drop them in the oil frying them.

Once fried, take the balls out and drain excess oil in a paper towel.

To serve, split the dinner roll down the middle.

Place a vada in between and eat it just like that. You can also make it spicier by adding green cilantro chutney or dry coconut and garlic chutney (recipe follows) or some deep fried thai chili with sea salt.

For the dry chutney:

6-8 cloves garlic

1 cup dry (unsweetened) grated coconut

2 tbsp red chili powder (or cayenne pepper)


Chop garlic.

Heat a pan, add garlic and also grated coconut. On a medium low heat, cook while constantly stirring until the coconut is dry roasted and light golden.

Grind all the ingredients together. Don’t add any water, this chutney is supposed to be dry.

  • July 4, 2011 - 12:09 am

    Nelly Rodriguez - I’ve had this. I love this. I need to get mustard seeds and chickpea flour to make these. Love the styling in the pictures as well and now headed to visit a new-to-me blog, thanks!ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 12:13 am

    Baker Street - Great pictures and it looks so authentic. :)

    P.S: I’m with you on that layer cake bit.ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 12:51 am

    A Plum By Any Other Name - I’m 100% terrified of layer cakes too. I know they need to be conquered. I just cant get the image of a perfect 3 tier chocolate glazed cake with a cherry on top. (Sigh.)

    I look forward to your bucket list …ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 1:25 am

    foodwanderings - Yay, Prerna you featured so beautifully one of my all time favorite foods and from Maharshtra where my parents were born and raised. I grew up with batata wara (wada) at home. My mom would make very often, We usually won’t have it as Vada Pav though it’s quite popular but just the Batata Wara all by itself with green coocnut chutney, tamarind sauce and spicy tomato sauce on the side. The recipe is similar with couple exceptions. The photographs are as gorgeous as ever!!ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 2:06 am

    chinmayie @ love food eat - Great pictures Prerna!! I love vada pav but i have never made it at home from scratch! when my street food guy makes the perfect vada pav there was no need for me to try to make it :)ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 2:59 am

    Maureen - I enjoy your photography so much. Every time I look at your food I get hungry.

    I have eaten this once in a restaurant but would have never dared try it myself. I think I can follow your directions quite easily. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 5:55 am

    Lora @cakeduchess - I think you would make a perfectly iced cake Brian:) Prerna is so talented and this looks delicious! Happy 4th to you and Eric!!!ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 8:06 am

    Ken⏐hungry rabbit - Thank you Brian and Prerna for this beautiful post. Both of you make recipes that are simply and delicious. I have faith in you, my friend, to turn out a beautiful cake. (hint: my birthday is around the corner).ReplyCancel

    • July 4, 2011 - 8:09 am

      Brian @ A Thought For Food - HAHA! I’m not sure a cake would make the trip all the way to NY. But I’ll be thinking of you while I’m eating it. 😉ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 10:38 am

    Rosie @ Sweetapolita - Brian and Prerna, this is a gorgeous post, and I love and admire you both. As for layer cakes, Brian, you would do a beautiful & authentic job of it — I just know you would. Happy Fourth of July and thanks so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 10:44 am

    MikeVFMK - Beautiful guest post! I’d love to have some of these!ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 12:34 pm

    sweetsugarbelle - I’m not confident I could make all of the dishes you guys do, but I love coming here because I learn. I learn so so much! With each story and post I feel like I got to do a little bit of the traveling I dreamed of in my younger years. THank you truly for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 1:11 pm

    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. - Awesome guest and post! Yall make a terrific combo!ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 2:21 pm

    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen - Love you both and so good to see that Vada Pav. And yes one can’t go to Mumbai and come back not eating this awesome street food. Totally love!ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    Prerna@IndianSimmer - Thanks SO much Brian for letting me share a little of India and a tiny little memory of my childhood. Loved doing this guest post for you. It was an honor!!ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 3:45 pm

    Andrew Frishman - MMMnnnn. . . I LOVES me some vada, especially when it’s pavy.

    Diversidad de la cocina es la panacea para los problemas de nuestro mundo.ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 5:09 pm

    Magpie - ooh this brings back so many memories of the first time I sank my teeth into vada pav at Dadar station :)ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 6:02 pm

    Me_Marathi - Brian, Thanks for presenting treat from Mumbai.

    Prerana so sweet of you to confess that you forgot red chutney but that green chutney is looking yummy, would love to have recipe for that, not in detail just ingredients are fine. Many Mumbai vadapav vendors do apply both chutneys.Liked your raddi paper styling. :)ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 6:13 pm

    Barbara | Creative Culinary - Thanks Brian and Prerna for bringing India a step closer. I’m just now moving into some ‘uncomfortable’ space and making things foreign to my kitchen but from a culture with such great foods. Love the story too Prerna!

    Brian…a layer cake? After your first one you will wonder why you were so nervous; I think they are the easiest thing in the world…even at high altitude (where I have to laugh and sometimes disguise the reality of cooking ‘up in the air’). You CAN do it!ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 6:46 pm

    Maris(In Good Taste) - What an excellent guest post. I love learning about foods from different cultures.ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 10:50 pm

    Chef Dennis - Hi Brian and Prerna

    what a wonderful guest post, those potato dumplings look delicious especially in that tasty little roll!!
    Brian I know you can make a layer cake, with the talent you have, it won’t be as hard as you think!


  • July 4, 2011 - 11:13 pm

    The Duo Dishes - Love learning about these types of things. Wonder if we can find them at one of the restaurants in our Little India.ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2011 - 11:16 pm

    Ann - Wonderful guest post! I love it and the Vada Pav sounds amazing! Your pictures are beautiful and your descriptions of childhood….I felt I was there!ReplyCancel

  • July 5, 2011 - 12:26 am

    Angie's Recipes - I like Indian Summer too :-))
    Those potato dumplings look fascinating! Thanks, Prerna and Brian!

  • July 5, 2011 - 3:37 am

    anushruti - Vada pav is such a staple for folks here in Mumbai. Some are known to even skip lunch and have one pav. When my brother was doing a project on the outskirts of Mumbai, he had to eat one vada pav everyday as there was nothing else available! I cringe at the thought of eating it everyday but as an occasional treat, this is so good! You have captured the essence of vada pav wonderfully here Prerna! Kudos!ReplyCancel

  • July 5, 2011 - 7:01 am

    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen - Umm, bread and potatoes, I’m in carb heaven!ReplyCancel

  • July 5, 2011 - 9:58 am

    SMITH BITES - oh my goodness . . . POTATOES IN BREAD!!! i have died and gone to heaven, i am certain!!!ReplyCancel

  • July 5, 2011 - 12:40 pm

    Shilpa - One of my favourite foods….haven’t had it in a long time….never could make yummy vadas…Am so pleased that I stumbled across this site…and came across your guest post….love the shots…love the food…what’s not to like in this?????? Yummylicious…ReplyCancel

  • July 5, 2011 - 12:47 pm

    Joy - My two favorite people in one post, life is good! Prerna your Vada Pav looks phenomenal!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • July 5, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    Joyti - Wonderful guest post, Prerna. The vada pav looks delicious, love the styling and look you created for the post as well.ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 7:31 am

    Joanne - I’ve always wanted to learn how to cook authentic Indian food also, Brian! I keep trying to get my roommate to let her mother teach me…it’s a process. We’re working on it.

    Vada pav looks delicious! All the photos are gorgeous…what a great guest post!ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 8:31 am

    Meeta - Oh yes – one of my all time favorite Indian street food. And this is doen well. Nice one Brian love this post by Prerna !ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 8:33 am

    Sanjeeta kk - One of my fav. street foods! You made it look so gorgeous, Prerna.ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 9:17 am

    Jamie - I love your story and this is the kind of food I love to eat when I go to an Indian restaurant! Now I can try your recipe.ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 9:49 am

    Corina - I love making Indian food but I’d never heard of these. They’d be perfect for those days when you have a comfort food carb craving. So glad to have come across something new.ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 10:14 am

    Karriann Graf - What a marvelous guest post! Happy Cooking!ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 12:31 pm

    Curry and Comfort - Gorgeous photos and lovely recipe. Some of my favorite flavors are in this dish. I can just imagine how good they tasted. : ) Congrats on making Foodbuzz Top 9!ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 12:39 pm

    Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets - Lovely guest post! I love Prerna’s Indian dishes — she always makes them seem doable and oh so scrumptious.ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 1:49 pm

    kankana - Awsm guest post. Prerna issuch an amazing blogger and writer and photographer. Love all her post and your too!
    I am sure you can do both the layered cake and an indian dish and you will make them not only look good but taste good too. I am looking forward to it :)ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    torviewtoronto - deliciously done vada pav Prerna looks wonderful
    lovely guest post BrianReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 4:31 pm

    Saviona Rodrigues - I like Vada Pav, this used to be my lunch once upon a time!! Miss Mumbai.ReplyCancel

  • July 6, 2011 - 5:25 pm

    Kimberley - Brian, I am with you on layer cakes and baking in general! And Indian street food is my favorite kind of Indian food. (I went there once, a LONG time ago, and still have fond memories of panipuri.) Gorgeous photos!ReplyCancel

  • July 7, 2011 - 5:57 am

    Kaushal Karkhanis - Brilliantly written and photographed (they look yumlicious!).

    Featuring you on VadaPav.com and the Facebook fan page :)
    Keep ’em coming… Cheers!!ReplyCancel

  • July 8, 2011 - 11:21 am

    Nishi - What a lovely guest post!!! Even though I am a true blue Indian, I have never tasted or made the vada pav. But After reading this post, I think it is about time I did.
    This is my first time on your space Brian. My one word for your blog is, AWESOME!!! I will be delighted to follow you :)ReplyCancel

  • July 8, 2011 - 5:47 pm

    Shirley - Good-looking sliders, and I can’t wait to see that layered cake!ReplyCancel

  • November 23, 2011 - 1:15 pm

    Vada Pav (Indian Slider) ~ IndianSimmer - Indian food made easy plus more! - […] so please try and make this chutney to accompany your vada pav. My friend Brian from A Thought For Food invited me over to his lovely blog to share an Indian recipe with him and his readers. It was 4th […]ReplyCancel

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