Mumbai Hottie !

A reader, who goes by the initial of P, requests for posts on ‘the hot things that make Mumbai the star capital of the nation. Give us date of birth, what makes them, who they are with and such details which will not only increase general awareness but also increase the hits on your blog’.

When such well intentioned requests are made, it would a gross dereliction of duty if such requests are ignored. So here is a post. On a hot thing that defines Mumbai in a particular way.

The Vada Pav.

The national food of Mumbai goes by the name of Vada Pav. Just before it sinks into the alimentary canal, this is how it looks.

The picture may not be pixel perfect, but that’s natural. If one hand is to hold a Vada Pav and another is to hold the camera and click and you expect a nice picture at that, well, you are the latest version of a cruel satan!

Its like putting a bone before a dog and asking it to stand on three legs to deserve the bone ! Only behavioural scientists do that. ( And promptly apply the results to man and being correct at that too. Quivering with joy before something as soulfully sinfully filling brings alive taste buds, that they almost jump out of the tongue, is a natural consequence of how an average Mumbai mind works.

A Vada Pav is a concentrated mega dose of mega carbohydrate. The next best alternative to carbohydrates being sold in a vial or something. Atleast that’s the image that comes to the mind. Its filling. Its fattening. Given those two attributes, it naturally follows that it is inviting and tasty as hell.

Its not as though its is a culinary delicacy, which is made by a chef sporting a huge white cap, aprons, gloves and such other paraphernalia. Vada Pav defines quintessential Mumbai : Fast, Quick, On the Go food ! Made by anybody, sold by somebody. Eaten by everybody. Almost everybody !

It’s a forerunner of the burger. Except that the bun is connected. Or perhaps, one bun split into two. Perhaps holding two buns, pav and getting into a train was a balancing act of some repute back in 1971 when the Vada Pav is purported to have been introduced. Or perhaps it was one more stock keeping unit to manage ! So there, one bun, cut into two, with a filling thrown in !

The filling itself is a deep fried mix of mash potatoes and gram flour! Make that DEEP FRIED. A zillion bubbles that surface in that hot oil as a practiced hand juggles all those potato and such else !

A Vada Pav is had, usually on the road. Usually, while waiting for the bus to arrive, with the tongue swirling with the vada while spitting out abuses at the bus driver who is late today ! Or as the train leaves. Or when the regular lunch has been eaten up by an empty conference call and all that remains is dreams of a ‘what could have been’ at lunch today ! In such times, the roadside Vada Pav is the saviour. Or many this is staple diet !

That is a typical roadside stall. The bun separated from the Vada, with old newspaper cuttings, which soon will be used as a wrap cum plate, before it disappears into the inner layers of a sedate body. After which the newspaper doubles up as a tissue. Now run !

In Ahmedabad, there is another version to this. Where they throw in cheese. Giant slabs of cheese are tossed on to hot plate, reminding you of thick slabs of ice in Antartica, that break off and fall into the sea and shown with immense clarity on National Geographic ! The global warming effect comes to the vada pav !

The Vada Pav is not necessarily a culinary challenge that an accomplished chef will warm upto. It is far more than that. It is a mix of culture, commerce, carbohydrates.

Yes. All of that, deep fried.

Dear P, that’s a hot thing that defines Mumbai. Ok ?

20 thoughts on “Mumbai Hottie !

  1. Lovely post! I agree totally- Vada-pav is certainly a hot thing that defines Mumbai!

  2. No size zero
    no Page 3,
    No symmetric patty
    ensconced in predictable buns
    accessorized by
    a mayo
    flowing just so
    a skirting lettuce
    pushing the tomato.

    But a carbo flamenco
    a full size
    tongue tingling
    wrapped up
    a concerned pao
    with red and orange
    and sometimes
    jalapeno green.

    Devoured on an
    Indian Run,
    and multieating
    in Mumbai.

    Eat your heart out McD
    as we rush
    under the Golden arches
    of our Railway stations….

  3. Sriram says:

    great post. ive been to Mumbai three times but I’ve never had Vada Pav. I guess my Mumbai experience isnt complete yet until I have a few of this hot thing 🙂

  4. cyber gipsy says:

    /**putting a bone before a dog and asking it to stand on three legs to deserve the bone ! Only behavioural scientists do that. ( And promptly apply the results to man and being correct at that too.**/

    LOL ! Pavlov didn’t know much about Vada Pav, did he ?

  5. cyber gipsy says:

    Read somewhere ( by columinst J.S.Raghavan) : ” Taste of a food item is INVERSELY proportional to the hygienic ambiance it’s served in. Eating at roadside shop, when a crow above and a dog below are waiting for food crumbs from your plate, that’s when it’s the tastiest !

  6. Kishley says:

    nice nice!! I loved Vada Pav, & yes its available in Mumbai as Chaat papri would be available in Delhi! 😀 I especially loved this from a Khao gali near RBI in mumbai!!

  7. radha says:

    Yes total carbohydrate plus fat. The Indian Burger. No wonder it satiates the hunger.

  8. RGB says:

    Vada pav, brings back memories of Mumbai, garma-garam! My husband was literally living off it. And myself, depended for my life(food) on the dabbawallas. Mumbai Hottie indeed!

  9. Aparna says:

    Shouldn’t have read it on a near empty stomach, now I’m salivating.
    Lovely post as usual.

  10. Girish says:

    Loved this post.
    Keep them coming Kavi!!!

  11. Jeevan says:

    If not the details or narration, the picture will hold in mind ever thinking about vada pa or Mumbai. I never heard about this delicious bonda like vada! As I reading there was a demo going on in mind 🙂

  12. Aleta says:

    Deep fried mash potatoes as the filling? Wow. Just wow. I imagine it’s good, but I’m having a difficult time wrapping around the deep fried mash potatoes! I’m curious enough that I’d try it though 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing this post – thoroughly enjoyed!

  13. Neha says:

    culture, commerce and carbohydrates – my my! 🙂

    yes, it is a staple diet for most..earlier, they said that nobody sleeps hungry in always have vada paav to eat..and it still stands true..there are so many places across Mumbai where you get amazing vada paav..but so far, the best one i have had is outside Kirti college – Ashok ka vada paav..that guy is FAMOUS..even film stars eat vada paav there, his photos have come in the newspaper..he even sells chura paav..those small bundis that remain in oil after you remove the vada – he adds that too in the vada paav and it makes that all the more tasty!

    and the one outside mithibai college..and one at borivali too, and many other places 🙂

  14. Sujatha says:

    Here’s another request from a reader – please, for the love of god, don’t put up such posts. We, who are very far away and therefore do not have access to such delicacies, cannot bear to read them or look at the pictures.

  15. nsiyer says:

    I am missing it. Have to wait for it for at least two months. Pavlov’s experiment with vada paav.

  16. SSQuo says:

    VP is the best! And now after this post, I want it. It’s been a while, hope all has been well.

  17. Appu says:

    Mumbai vada-pav no doubt the best but if you within Goa try to reach Mapusa chowk, National Highway 17 And turn towards Thivim. Just 20 meters on the left-side is one vada-pav wala which I find one of the best makers of vada pav.
    – I am hungry now

  18. Piyush Kapadia says:

    You don’t call local favorite food as national food of Mumbai, word national food applies to entire nation or most favorite food of nation, none applies in this case

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