“Vada Pav!”, was Apeksha’s (@misspunekar) reaction when we finalised the concept. It’s her absolute favorite and I’m guessing yours as well. This is one item in our staple food menu which is an absolute essential, especially for a city like Pune. Quick, cheap and most importantly, delicious. Of course we had to do something with it! In case you haven’t watched it yet, here it is.
The best part about making this video, and I’m speaking on my own behalf here, was going out to get the Vada Pavs. Three different places, thirty Vada Pavs! Despite the late evening traffic and waiting in line at three consecutive Vada Pav eateries, I got what I wanted. And along with it, the mouth-watering aroma of freshly fried Vadas and chilies. Do you understand how hard it is to buy these Vada Pavs and not biting into one immediately? Well, it’s practically impossible.
The contestants, including me, were selected randomly. After all, who in this city hasn’t hogged on Vada Pavs? The video was shot at Sanil’s (#KaayMag) place, our anchor for the video. His terrace seemed like a perfect place to shoot and once the Vada Pavs were laid out on the table, the terrace looked even better. However, we had one glaring issue to be dealt with, the October afternoon heat.
Imagine six people desperately praying to mother nature for pulling her sun behind just a little bit. Just a little bit so that we could start. All the while, our stomachs were growling. None of us came on the shoot with breakfasts in our stomachs so obviously, the Vada Pavs looked even more tempting.
Now you might be thinking that the actual competition wouldn’t be so hard. Every Vada Pav eatery has its own trademark taste, a certain ingredient which seperates the Vada from its competition. You’re right and wrong. The Vadas if eaten independently, can be easily identified. With the Pavs, oh boy, it gets really difficult!
Add to that, the order in which we had to eat. Garden Vada Pav is easily the largest of the three, but once you’re blindfolded, size stops to matter. That’s where your tongue needs to wake up and as you must have seen in the video, mine refused to. The minute you’ve done biting and gulping down the first vada, you understand the complexity of the competition. It’s all in the taste. The taste of the previous vada lingers in your mouth causing confusion. You have to be really good to identify the taste of Vada with just a few bites.
The two guys who won told us later that they identified it with the amount of spice and the crunchiness of the besan covering of the Vada. Smart move, really. Otherwise, if you look at them individually, they aren’t too different from each other. My strategy was to guess the Vadas with the taste of the chutneys, Joshi Vadewale and Jumbo Vada have distinguishable tastes to their chutney. The reason why it didn’t work out for me was because the Vada taste was too overpowering. Yep, I should have predicted that.
All in all, a deliciously fun experience. I’m one of the few in this city to say that he got paid for eating vada pav, how do you not feel jealous after listening to something like that? Jokes aside, these videos will be frequent in the coming months. I’m eagerly anticipating more food and more people to join me in the * drumroll * taste test!