The ingredients list for this Indian street food snack may seem daunting, but the chutneys are easily made while the potato mixture is cooling.
Of Maharashtrian origin, the vada pav is a very popular Indian street food snack, consisting of spiced, deep-fried potato garnished with various chutneys. The credit for invention often goes to a man named Ashok Vaidy, who slung his wares from a stall outside Dadar station in 1971. Beats a soggy sandwich on the train home from work, huh?
(Makes about 20 balls; serves 5)
For the spiced potato mix
2 fresh green chilies, finely chopped (seeded or not is up to you)
1 garlic clove, crushed
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
A pinch of asafoetida (optional)
10 (fresh or dried) curry leaves
500g cold mashed potatoes
½ tsp ground turmeric
Sea salt, to taste
4 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
For the sweet chutney
6 dried dates
½ tsp tamarind puree
For the dry garlic chutney
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp peanut (groundnut) oil, plus extra for frying
35g dry unsweetened (desiccated) coconut
1 tsp chilli powder
For the green chutney
A large bunch of fresh coriander
A handful of fresh mint leaves
About 5 fresh green chilies, chopped (seeded or not is up to you)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the batter
100g chickpea/besan (gram) flour
¼ tsp ground turmeric
A pinch of baking powder
5 soft white rolls, split open, to serve
Fried fresh green chilies, to serve (optional)
To make the spiced potato mixture:
Mash together the chillies, garlic and ginger. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop. Add the asafoetida, if using, and the curry leaves and cook for 10 seconds. Add the chilli/ginger paste and cook for 10 seconds. Add the mashed potatoes, turmeric and salt, then add the coriander and mix well. Remove from the heat and let cool. Meanwhile, make the chutneys.
To make the sweet chutney:
Soak the dates in warm water for about 20 minutes, then remove the stones. Whiz the dates in a blender with the tamarind puree and a splash of water to form a tomato sauce-like consistency. Set aside.
To make the dry garlic chutney:
Gently caramelise the whole garlic cloves in a frying pan with a little peanut oil. Add the coconut, stirring until golden. Blend together with the chilli powder and the remaining tablespoon of peanut oil. Season with salt. Set aside.
To make the green chutney:
Blend the coriander, mint, green chillies and lemon juice with a splash of water. Add the vegetable oil, plus some salt, and blend again. Set aside.
To shape and cook the potato mixture:
Pour vegetable oil for deep-frying into a deep frying pan or an electric deep-fat fryer and heat to 180C. Shape the spiced potato mixture into balls (to make about 20 balls).
To make the batter:
Mix all the batter ingredients together, then dip each potato ball in the batter. Deep-fry the balls in batches for about six minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm while you cook the rest.
Serve the warm potato balls in the white rolls with the chutneys and fried green chilies, if using.
Photo: The vada pav, said to be invented by Ashok Vaidy. Photograph: Stephen Conroy/101 Sandwiches