Essential Bombay – Vada Pav

 5 September 2007, Grant Road Station, Mumbai

Putting Chutney on Pav Vada Take Away Vada Pav

 What are you doing? Eating Vada Pav Crowding Around

Vada pav (pronounced “pau”) is the ubiquitous snack of Bombay.  It is what millions of the poor and students eat to fill their bellies, and what all other Mumbaikers have as a snack any time of day.  Ask any college student what her favorite food is, and the answer will be:  vada pav.

The vada is spiced mashed potatoes (with any of the following added: diced green chilies, onions, coriander, etc., depending on the vendor) covered in besan (chick pea flour, also called gram flour) and deep fried.  The pav (bread) is a bun, about the size of a U.S. “dinner roll.”

The vada pav stand pictured above, is located at the main entrance to the Grant Road station, on the East side.  Because it is mobbed from the time of set-up to the time the vada run out, it is a three-man operation.  One man separates the pav into units of two, slices them in half with a long, serrated knife, and then slathers the inside of the pav with imli (tamarind) chutney (which is sweet and sour) using a large ladle.  He then sets the buns on the lid of the large imli chutney vessel.  The pav are stuffed with vada by a second man and handed out to waiting hands and mouths.  (There is a smaller vessel of coriander chutney as well as a bowl of whole, raw green chilies for those who want to doctor up their vada pav. )  The third man wraps the orders to go and takes the cash:  Rs. 5 per vada pav. (U.S. 13 cents at 40 rupees to the dollar.)  Most people have two.

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2 Responses to “Essential Bombay – Vada Pav”


  1. 1 xnegvx September 7, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Ah…. heaven… you just made me crave for one… if only i was not 2000 Km away from home… 🙂

  2. 2 yoomilee September 7, 2007 at 6:41 am

    Hi xnegvx,

    Somehow, there’s nothing like street food to make you feel nostalgic. I’m going to feel this way about pani puri very soon when I leave Bombay.


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