January 29, 2019

Batata Vada (the Mumbai way!)

A craving for Vada Pav can come anytime. It doesn’t knock. It doesn’t even know if you have Pav at home.

What is Batata Vada? If you are on this page, you obviously know the answer. But let me just pretend you do not know. Batata is potato, not just in Marathi; but derived from Portuguese. WHAAAT?! Yes. Batata vadas are potato fritters; boiled and mashed potatoes seasoned with ginger, garlic, chillies, turmeric powder – dipped in a batter of chickpea flour – and deep fried. It is committed to Pav, however is as much fun even when single💁
So one evening, I just decided to make the vada and eat with the dry garlic chutney and took pictures. Frankly I have gotten so used to missing vada pav ever since moving from Mumbai, now I am even used to the missing part. Doesn’t hurt anymore. Whenever the craving comes knocking, I just make it. The batter is a no-brainer, one that is used for any bhajiya or pakoda; just a little more prep work for filling since this one involves boiled potatoes. Batata Vada alone or with its other half that is Vada Pav, is quite a regular in my kitchen (yes, in spite of the deep frying involved).

My modus operandi to the closest-to-original Mumbai batata vada is grating ginger and garlic. And – Crushing some coriander seeds. And – adding a tiny bit of baking soda to the gram flour (besan) batter. These three points have always helped transport me to Mumbai at least for a few minutes while enjoying the vadas with hot adrak wali chai.

For the filling --  Potato mixture:
Potato – 5
Oil – 1 tbsp (and more for frying)
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Split Urad dal – 1 tsp
Ginger – 1.5 inch long
Garlic – 4 large ones or 7-8 small
Green chillies – 3
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Coriander seeds – 15
Coriander leaves – 20 sprigs
Curry leaves – 10

For the cover – Batter:
Chickpea flour/Gram flour/Besan – 2 cups
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Baking soda – ¼ tsp

How I prepare:
  1. Boil the potatoes (pressure cook for 5 whistles or boil until soft). Peel and lightly mash. We need pieces of potatoes.
  2. Grate ginger and garlic. Chop green chillies finely. Next, to crush coriander seeds, I use the roti rolling pin on the kitchen counter. Be slow and courteous, or you’ll have frying coriander seeds. Make sure to crush each one, biting on a whole seed in the vada is not too exciting😝
  3. Heat oil in a pan, when hot add mustard seeds, split urad dal. When mustard seeds crackle, add the ginger and garlic. Add the crushed coriander seeds, green chillies and curry leaves as the garlic cooks.
  4. Immediately add the mashed potatoes, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well and add the coriander leaves.
  5. Let the potato mixture cool while you make the batter.
  6. Make a batter of chickpea flour, red chilli powder, baking soda and salt with water. Add less water and make a paste and then add more water, this will avoid lumps. The batter should be of a thicker consistency than that of normal bhajiyas like this one. Thick cover will give an overall taste of the coating in every bite of the batata vada.
  7. Heat oil for deep frying. Make balls of the potato mixture and dip into the batter and drop slowly when the oil is hot.
  8. It’s best to drop a tiny bit of the batter into the oil to check if it comes right back up. If it doesn’t, the oil is not hot enough and the batter coated vada will sit on the bottom of the pan/wok.
  9. Also, you may have small or long parts of the fried batter sticking to the vada. If you don’t, drop small portions of the batter into hot oil. Then break these and mix with dry red chutney and have along with the vada. Whether in Mumbai or out of Mumbai, these vadas are a delectable treat😋
Enjoy  hot batata vadas as is, or with pav or with bread! But try not to miss the combo with a cup of hot ginger tea. Dry garlic chutney or Lasun chutney coming soon guys!

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