Empty calories are especially delicious when they are consumed in the form of deep-fried snacks. Indians have a whole range of spicy deep-fried snacks that are enjoyed with mugs of soul-satiating masala chai and 'gupshup'. Monsoons have made landfall in parts of India and with it, houses have started smelling of delicious, crispy pakoras and bhajiyas fresh off the kadhai (the desi cooking pot used for deep-frying). One of the most common street foods and tea-time snacks in Maharashtra is the batata vada. Simply put, the food is a deep-fried ball of spicy potato mash covered in a flavourful chickpea flour or gram flour batter. Batata vada can be eaten on its own and can also be stuffed inside fresh, soft pavs and consumed with fried green chillies and the authentic ghati masala.
Batata vada is the essence of the much-loved desi street food- vada pav. It is also one of the most hot-selling items in street food stalls and even in college canteens in Mumbai. The snack is incredibly filling, made as it is, using potatoes and gram flour, and is delicious to boot! It makes for a great on-the-go snack and is incredibly portable, which makes it a convenient food to carry while you're travelling. The potato mash is made from boiled potatoes and a range of spices including cumin seeds, turmeric and asafoetida. Crushed fried green chillies are also added to the mash, along with crushed garlic. The mash is then cooked in a little oil, along with curry leaves to give it a distinctive flavour and fresh coriander is added to the mix.
The potato mixture or mash is sautéed on a low flame for a few minutes. The mash is then divided into medium-sized balls, which are then dipped in a light and runny besan or gram flour batter and deep-fried to reveal golden-brown and crisp vadas. You can then stuff these vadas inside fresh pavs and enjoy it as a delicious and filling snack or eat the vadas with chutney, ketchup or ghati masala and chai.
YouTube chef Vaishali Polke makes these delicious Maharashtrian tea-time snacks in this video from her channel Being Marathi:
Batata vadas are enjoyed hot, but they can also be packed in tiffin and consumed throughout the day. Happy cooking!