Tag Archives: South India

An Ode to the Vada Pav

If Rasam is my most favorite food, then Vada-Pav comes a close second. Its my comfort food for the soul and the only food that I craved for all through 09 months of pregnancy. It is often called a poor man’s burger and I think calling it so is an insult to a mighty, crunchy from outside and deliciously soft and spicy from inside, hot Vada between a Pav that has just the right amount of Lasoon Chutney and Deep Fried salted green chillies. The Vegetable Bonda from South India, is an inferior and distant cousin, that cannot make claims to Vada Pav’s feisty and feiry nature.This is a food for not the faint hearted, or for someone who watches his weight and is perenially counting his calories. This deep fried, huge balls of fire as I call them is not the ideal food to be had before a romantic interlude or on your first date. This is a dish you have with someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life with. The Vada Pav lover is a Man of Character. He is not pretentious, is large hearted and loves all things for what it is,and will never give you a hard time when you put on a little weight,very symbolic of the Vada Pav. All over Bombay and Maharashtra you would see carts selling Vada Pav from early morning to late nights and is the perfect snack in between meals (According to Me). My growing up years in my family meant Saturday evenings in front of the television watching Doordarshan and sharing a few Vada Pav’s and Mirchi Bhajiya’s to tide over the ennui .College meant feasting on Vada Pav in Shivaji Park and outside Kirti College. Moving to Chennai/Kolkata and now New Delhi meant being bereft of this snack, and you can see me begging and pleading with friends, relatives and strangers to get me Vada Pav from Bombay.So popular is the snack ,that a vendor of this outside my parents started out with rather humble beginnings, now boasts of owning 02 plush apartments in our Hiranandani Complex, Powai and has sent his kids abroad for further studies. A no mean feat at that. My dearest chachi and mother are so inspired by this, they are ready to retire early and set up a stall selling hot Vada Pav’s soon. Ah, my days of being a multi- millionaire are just round the corner
Few Potatoes, Boiled and Mashed
Green Chillies and Garlic ground to a coarse paste
Mustard Seeds
Curry Leaves
Turmeric Powder
Besan/Gram Flour mixed with heeng, turmeric, salt and water to make a thick paste of g coating consistency
Oil for Tempering and Frying
Bedekar dry Lasson Chutney
Few Green Chillies, Slit and Stuffed with Salt and Fried
Soft Pavs preferably from Bombay
Heat a spoonful of oil for temepering. When hot, add chopped curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric powder. Add the green chilli-garlic paste and salt to taste, followed by mashed potatoes and cook for a minute. Cool and divide into equal portions and make round tikki shaped roundels. Meanwhile in another pan, heat oil for frying, and when sufficiently hot, dip the potato tikkis in besan batter and fry till light golden brown and not the colour of pakoras. Stuff them between slices of pav with fried green chillies and lasson chutney and EAT HOT!!! NEVER EVER SHARE


Rasam Raaga

My husband a true blue Punjabi, loves Sambhar and Rice as much, or more than Paranthas, my best friend Vaishali prefers tempered Curd Rice over her staple Gujarati fare. My favorite food in the whole world is the ubiquitous and oft unsung Rasam. The Rasam is almost always only a part of a South Indian thali or as a go between before your main order of Paneer Masala Dosa arrives on the table. This little gem like quite a few of its counterparts across cuisines across the globe does not get the pride of place on menus and because of its coy nature is overshadowed by the bully called Sambhar.

I enjoy Rasam, everywhere, all kinds of it; from the tangy, very sour Rasam of the Saravana Bhavans of the world, to the slightly sweet Mysore Rasam at Café Mysore, Mumbai and the pseudo-exorbitantly-priced-with-no-character Rasam at 5 star hotels.

As a child, I have vivid memories of my grandmother (who incidentally makes the best Rasam in the whole universe) stirring potfuls of Rasam, when we were sick, travelling, and on joyous and festive occasions. At my mother’s place, Rasam was always an antidote for any ailment. Ginger Rasam for a bad throat, an Ajwain Rasam for stomach ache & upsets, Lemon Rasam to clear the palate after a bout of flu and even a hot & fiery pepper Rasam for a heartbreak were prescribed.

Infact, muligatwany soup, the national soup of Sri Lanka is derived from our very own Rasam or mulagathanni, mulaga-pepper and thanni-water. This versatile dish spiked with vodka makes the most mean cocktail that can leave one begging for more. I sometimes serve Pineapple Rasam, as an appetizer in shot glasses or Lemony Rasam with Vadas dunked in them (very unusual) for my lunch parties, but a hit every time. One of the first solids to feed a child in a South Indian household, is mashed rice with some divine Rasam.

Its poetic justice to me hence, that my son Andy’s Annaprashan, is just 03 months away, and my grandmother will make the most delightful Rasam. Andy’s induction to the world of Rasam is about to begin. SLUURPP !!!!SLUURRPP!! REJOICE

1 Tbsp whole peppercorns and ½ inch Ginger with peel (grind them coarsely)
¼ cup Dal water (Any Dal preferably Arhar)
If cooking Dal, just take a couple of Teaspoons of cooked dal and mix it with water, or dilute any leftover yellow dal
½ Tsp Turmeric Pwd
1 Tsp Sambhar Pwd
Salt to Taste

For the Tempering
1 big spoonful of Ghee
1 whole Red Chilli
Handful of Coriander leaves, broken with your hands, including the stems

1. In a large vessel, mix 3 cups of water, turmeric powder, ginger-pepper powder, Sambhar Powder and Salt boil for about 10-12 minutes
2. Add, diluted Dal water and let it cook for 5-7 minutes, till it bubbles over
3. In a small saucepan, heat ghee, and when hot, break and add red chilli, coriander leaves and add it to the Bubbling Rasam.
4.Check for seasoning and Serve Hot
5. Sit Back and Receive Compliments!!!!