Vada Pav (Indian Veggie Burgers)
These starchy sandwiches are a popular beachside snack in Mumbai. Fluffy Goan-style white rolls are filled with a crispy fried potato patty, sweet and spicy chutneys, and a garlicky powdered chile-coconut condiment.
What You Will Need
- Medium Bowl
- Large Skillet
- Small Skillet
- Spice Grinder
- Deep Fryer or Heavy-Bottom Pot
- Metal Slotted Spoon or Spider Skimmer
For the wada pao
- 8 medium yellow potatoes (4 lb.)
- 2 tbsp. mustard oil
- 2 tsp. mustard seeds
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds
- Pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- 4-6 green Thai chiles (or similar), thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, minced (1 cup)
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. ground turmeric, divided
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 12 curry leaves
- 1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro
- Kosher salt
- 3 cups chickpea flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- Canola oil, for frying
- 12 small, soft white rolls, homemade or purchased
- Green chutney and tamarind chutney to serve, store-bought or homemade
For the garlic chutney
- 8 garlic cloves, sliced (1/4 cup)
- 2 tbsp. raw blanched peanuts
- 2 tbsp. unsweetened shredded dried coconut
- 1 tbsp. Kashmiri chile powder
- Kosher salt
- In a large pot, add the potatoes and enough cold water to cover; bring to a boil, and cook until tender, 35-40 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly, then use a kitchen towel to rub away the skins.
- Pass the potatoes through a ricer into a medium bowl (alternatively, place in a medium bowl and mash gently with a fork).
- In large skillet, heat the mustard oil over high heat until smoking. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and cook until they pop. Add the asafoetida, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, and the coriander and cook a few seconds more, then add the curry leaves and cook until they blister and turn bright and glossy, 5-10 seconds. Add the onion and chiles and lower the heat to medium; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent but not yet browned, 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer the onion mixture to the bowl with the potatoes; season with salt and stir gently to combine.
- When the potato mixture is cool enough to handle, shape it into 12 even patties, about 4 ounces each or ½ cup of mixture per patty. Place on a plate and transfer, uncovered, to the freezer to set up slightly as you prepare the batter and oil.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the chickpea flour, baking soda, remaining ½ teaspoon turmeric, and salt to thoroughly combine. Add 1 ½ cups water and whisk to make a smooth, thick but pourable batter. Let rest for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the dry chutney: In a small skillet over high heat, add the garlic (the pan should be dry) and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, 5-6 minutes. Transfer the garlic to a spice grinder and return the pan to the heat. Add the peanuts and cook, stirring constantly until toasted and fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Transfer the peanuts to the spice grinder and return the pan to the heat. Add the coconut and cook, stirring constantly, until evenly golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the coconut to the spice grinder. Leave the grinder open and let the toasted ingredients cool to room temperature. Add the chili powder, then grind the mixture into a fine powder. Season the chutney with salt and set aside.
- In a deep fryer or heavy-bottomed pot, add enough canola oil to reach 2 inches up the sides of the pot. Heat until a deep-fat thermometer reads 350°.
- Set a paper-towel-lined plate next to the stove. Remove the potato patties from the freezer and dredge them in the batter to coat. Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, carefully drop the patties into the oil. Stir immediately to prevent them from sticking to the bottom or each other, then cook, turning once, until evenly golden, crispy, and warmed through, 4-5 minutes per batch. Remove with a spider or slotted metal spoon and drain on the prepared plate while you finish frying the rest of the patties.
- Slice the buns in half, smear the tops with green chutney and place the potato patties on the bottoms. Spread the patties with sweet tamarind chutney and sprinkle generously with the garlic chutney. Replace the top buns and serve immediately.