Saturday, August 27, 2005

IMBB #18: No Fear of Frying!

Sizzleophobia,n.: Fear of immersing edible objects into heated oils; rel. to Calorie Consciousness, also see entry for Homer Simpson "mmmm....fried food". Well, today for the IMBB #18 of Is My Blog Burning, hosted by Linda of At our table, all food bloggers are asked to overcome their sizzleophobia and get frying.

Which works perfectly fine for me, because we Indians have long overcome our fear of frying. Bring on that huge kadhai (wok) of oil, and send those foods for a swim. Here is a hypothetical Indian feast illustrating the sheer variety of fried food we enjoy-
Appetizers: samosas (pastry turnovers, triangles stuffed with a spicy potatoes-and-peas mixture and deep-fried), pakodas (vegetables fried in a chickpea batter).
Main Courses: puris (puffy golden fried bread), stuffed parathas (flat-breads stuffed with cheese-vegetable fillings and griddle-fried).
Dessert: Take your pick of gulab Jamun (fried dough balls soaked in sugar syrup) or jalebi (golden rings soaked in sugar syrup).

Well, needless to say I do not cook such meals on a routine basis. Every few weeks I will make some fried dish as a treat. All the fun without the guilt. Interestingly, if frying is done right, at the correct temperature, food absorbs less oil. I don't own a food thermometer or deep fat fryer, but through sheer practice, I have more or less learnt to fry food in a regular pan and still have it not becoming too greasy.

A whole new category of fried foods that I did not cover in the listing above is street food. For my IMBB entry today, I am making a favorite Bombay street food dish, Vada Pav (literally translates as "fritter roll"). Vada pav is Bombay's answer to the ubiquitous burger, and this humble dish feeds millions of hungry people every day. Here it is, my tribute to the tenacity and spirit of Bombayites...

Batata Vada
3 large potatoes, boiled and mashed coarsely
1 onion, minced
4 green chillies, minced
1 tsp. ginger-garlic paste
5-6 curry leaves
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp. turmeric
Salt to taste


  • Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a pan. Add asafoetida, mustard seeds, chillies, onions, curry leaves and fry for a couple of minutes till onions are transluscent. 
  • Add ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, salt and fry for a few seconds.
  • Then add mashed potatoes and fry for a couple of minutes. Let the potato mixture cool down and then it is ready to be made into fritters.

To make the fritters, make a thick batter, about the consistency of pancake batter, of
1 cup chickpea flour (besan), seasoned with salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. You can add 1/2 tsp of baking soda to make the batter fluffier.

Now make little balls of the potato mixture, dip in the batter to cover them fully and deep-fry in a couple inches of hot vegetable oil. Drain onto paper towels. Your potato fritters are ready!


Now we make some fiery garlic chutney by grinding together 3 cloves garlic, 6 dried red peppers and some salt together.

Finally, the "vada pav" is assembled by slicing some crusty chewy bread (I used hero rolls) horizontally, dabbing some garlic chutney on the bottom half, then tucking in a couple of fritters.
Vada Pav

This is it, the heartbeat of a city in edible, portable form. Enjoy!


  1. Wow! Those look fantastic! It only took a couple of inches of oil to fry them? What kind of pan or pot do you use?

  2. Hi Amy,
    Thanks for stopping by! To fry these, I used a 1-quart saucepan...and the way the 2 inches of oil works is, the first time I put the balls in (the pictures are close-ups, they are quite small), they are only 1/2 to 3/4 immersed in oil. I turn them over and fry the other side after the first is done. this seems to work for me :) and I waste less oil this way.

  3. Nupur, they look like vadai which we get in Indian restaurants. Usually we eat them just as it is for tea time. I also use a small saucepan as it cuts down the oil used in say a wok.

  4. I love me some puris! My friend Nilima, a wonderful cook used to make them when I went over for supper. I find that restaurants do not offer them, probably because health conscious patrons object.

    I wish I had asked Nilima for her recipe. Long time ago she moved to the US and we lost contact. I haven't tasted puris ever since. Sad!

  5. Hi Boo...yes these look like vadai! But vadai are dumplings made with lentil batter so they are quite different really. Just as tasty though :)

    Hi Ana, puris are indeed delicious. They are quite easy to make really...just a dough of whole wheat flour, oil, salt and water. But you are right, people are staying away from puris these days...they can get pretty oily!

  6. hey Nupur- your vada pav looks fabulous! now i have a major craving for it :-)

  7. hi nupur,
    we all just loved your vada pav. li'l kimu asked apan khauya ? so i told her its only a photo , we cant eat it. so she immediately said , apan jauya new york ? wow , imagine making a trip to the US for yr vada pav. ...but that speaks wonders for it. really moth , yoma.

  8. Hi Tanvi, yeah this vada pav really hot the spot :D Maybe you can find a restaurant there which sells it...I know some places in NYC have vada-pav now.

    Hi Yoma, You live in vada-pav heaven (Bombay), so you don't have to fly down here to eat it! But please fly down to NYC to eat some cheesecake and pizza.

  9. Great post! The dish looks wonderful and yummy, and I really liked the nice background description! I'd love to try some of those...I also love puris and especially gulab jamun...YUM! :-)

  10. Thanks for participating in this month's IMBB. Your entry looks delicious!

  11. Hi Nupur,

    Your vada pavs are making me sooo hungry! I love potatoes, and fritters, ok, simply anything fried and crispy! This is something I definitely will have to try.

  12. girl,
    what with your sukh sagar pav bhaji and now the vada pav i wish i had never left IITB at all :( esp being here in san diego and surrounded by take-out burritos makes the whole thing worse. your blog's great for recepies (not that i try them that often) and even better for nostalgia!

  13. Hi Joey, yeah gulab jamun is sooo good. fried AND gets no better than that :)

    Hi Shakthi, well, here is one Indian who is not afraid of frying even in America: me!

    Hi Linda, Thanks for hosting and for choosing such a wide-ranging theme :)

    Hi Julia, fried potatoes are definitely a universal addication. every culture has recipes for it!

    Shoots! Hop on a plane and come to NYC for all the street food you want to eat :) You know you have an open invitation!

  14. Hi Amy
    Thanks for the kind words...glad to be of a little help :) It makes me really happy to be an ambassador of my cuisine :)

  15. Thanks for the authentic recipes. Brings back childhood memories of eating Vada with chilipowder at Mama Kane' on Dadar West.
    Tumhi Marathyancha Garv Ahat:)

  16. have always bought the gar;ic chutney on my trips to Bombay, now I know how easy it is to make... the perfect accompaniment to batata vadas :)

  17. Hi Nupur,
    A good friend introduced me to your site only last week and im so delighted to be here.I just moved from Mumbai to Delhi and since then am craving for Mumbai street food and chaat.Thanks to you,now i can satisfy my tounge and treat my family too.The vada pav,pav bhaji,pani puri,patties all look so yum,can't wait to try them out.
    Also,i feel,adding coriander seeds to the vadas will lend them the authentic maharashtrian flavour.
    Mumbai rocks!!!

  18. Hi Nupur,
    The vada pav looks yummy. Where did you get the bread from--a regular grocery store??

  19. Anu, You can find good bread (crusty on the outside, soft on the inside) in the bakery division of most grocery stores and supermarkets, or in bakeries.

  20. i love your blog and learnt to make varan bhaat thanks to it! :)

    adding this recipe link to my site and your blog link to my blogroll!

  21. Hi Nupur,
    Well again trying many recipes from your site, I tried your Batata Vada yesterday and your Hariyali chutney too. I made exactly, in addition I spread some hariyali chutney and tamarind chutney ( which I got from jugalbandi). WOW! I never tasted this before but boy we really liked it very much. Thanks and big hug from me.


  22. Vada pav looks absolutely delicious:)
    Loved your blog Nupur:)

  23. I made ur vada pav, love it a lot :) Thanks for sharing the Bombay special street food Nupur !

  24. Hey Nupur, I think your pic is copied here

  25. Try adding some Urad dal along with the curry leaves. It adds to the flavour.

  26. Wow...and there i was drooling over imaginary vada pavs (being an ex-Mumbaite). Vandana posted this link and viola. THANKS!


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