This is the last of the food series, and I’m ending it with another favorite Indian street food. Vada pav, by definition, is exactly what it sounds like. It’s vada in a pav. To be more specific, it’s a deep fried spiced potato patty (vada) in a bread roll (pav) served with two chutneys (spread on the upper and lower insides of the cut pav) and a green chilli for the brave of heart.
(I often pretend to be brave of heart with the chilli, even though I know for a fact that I am not.)
Basically it’s a vada sandwich and a street food native to the state of Maharashtra. Mumbai Vada Pav is a specialty in the city. I first came across it when I was in college, sometime in my third year, I think. My friends and I were all at an annual convention/competition in Hubli conducted by NASA. (National Association of Students of Architecture, not the space guys.) It took place on a college campus, where there was a lot of work to be done and different events were taking place in different buildings, all of which were a decent distance apart. There was a lot of walking involved, so naturally, we got hungry quite often. And considering that we were college kids with meager personal funds, we were loath to spend more than we had to.
That’s where vada pav came to our rescue. There was a stall in one particular spot that was cleverly placed so that it was easily accessible from the three buildings where most of our events were taking place. There, they were selling hot, delicious vada pav for five rupees apiece. You don’t get anything for five rupees these days, maybe a tiny piece of candy at a grocery store if you’re lucky. These weren’t small vadas and pavs either, they were big and filling and hot and hearty and utterly delicious. We gorged on them, finishing it off with the equally cheap and wonderful madka kulfi from the stall right next to it.
Food, like books and songs and many other things, have memories attached to them. What I had in Hubli wasn’t great vada pav by vada pav standards, but in my head, they’re the most wonderful I ever had. And every time I eat another one, I go back to those days.
So, that’s been fifteen days of food and we are now at the three-quarter mark! Just 25 more days to go! A special shout out to Dan Pashman and the Sporkful podcast that has kept me company through most of this series. This and Masterchef Australia completely changed the way I regard and work with food, and I am ever so grateful.