For years now, Pune has been gifted with its favourite joints like Garden vada pav, Joshi wadewale, Shivshakti and many others, who, while retaining the quintessential deliciousness of the snack, have little secrets tucked up their sleeves to make it extra special. It could be the chutneys they add, the masala in the potato mixture or simply the way they fry the green chillies to accompany the Indian burger, that makes it the most sought after street food item. Seriously, no other snack has ever been able to dethrone the vada pav from that position.
That said, the times they are a changing! So, while we all enjoy tucking into the guilty pleasure of a simple vada pav, we could also revamp it, and make it a hot favourite at a brunch or a classy dinner setting. And that my friends is exactly what I am about to shed light on. Here are 5 really easy and classy twists to the unpretentious vada pav which I could safely say are things that make you go mmmm!
Baked Vada Pav Pie
Butter a fairly deep (about 3 inches) pie dish. Cut 2 pavs into thin strips and layer the bottom and the sides of the pie dish with it. Butter the strips up and press them down to form a base. Add a layer of tangy green chutney to the base. Add a layer, about one inch thick, of the potato stuffing and spread it evenly. Top it with a generous sprinkle of dry lasun chutney. Then pour a mixture of one part besan with 1 and a half parts water, season it well with salt, pepper, chilli powder and lime juice. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees in a pre-heated oven. Voila!
Vada Pav Muffins
Grease muffin moulds and dust them with flour. Cut the base of the pav into circles that sit pretty on the base of each muffin mould. Butter them up. Add a layer of blanched spinach. Then pour in a tablespoon full of sweet tamarind and date chutney into each mould. Crush the vada and add that as a layer next. Add a spicy chilly chutney and some shredded mozzarella cheese. Add some paprika, dried dill and oregano for seasoning. Top it with the top layer of the pav (also cut in circles to cover the top). Sprinkle a hearty bit of cheddar cheese on the top and bake in a pre-heated oven until the cheese turns golden; then, savour the spoils of your labour.
Vada and Hummus Wraps
Take some really soft chapatis. Spread a layer of hummus on them. Cut the vada into chunky pieces (one vada per chapatti), and lay them across one side of the chapati. Press them down, add a sprinkle of lasun chutney and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add pickled green chillies and roll. Cut into bite sizes pieces and secure with toothpicks. Serve with pesto and tamarind chutney.
Divide the pav from the middle (base and top). Use a cutter or a small katori to make roundels. Butter them up and toast them until crunchy. Add green coconut chutney to the base and a quarter of a vada to each roundel. Chop some green chillies and sprinkle those on the top. Sprinkle some mozzarella and bake at 150 degrees for 10 minutes. Serve topped with sev and a small dollop of hot and spicy ketchup.
Boil whole tomatoes. Once cooled, peel and deseed them. In a blender, add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Add a dash of cream, some parsley, a bit of basil, tabasco and vinegar and blitz again. Leave it in the fridge for an hour. In the meantime, cut the pav into little squares and fry or bake them to make croutons. Cut a vada into about 8 pieces. Place half of those pieces in each soup bowl and top with the tomato blend. Add croutons on top and sprinkle some parmesan. The Spaniards sure didn’t think of this one!
So here we are, the simple, humble and our favourite vada pav, that can appease every taste bud and blend into any cuisine you want it to. From the vada pav and me, happy brunching!