Mumbai, the city which never sleeps and never lets anyone go hungry offers you the iconic street food ‘The Vada Pav’. Also known as the Poor man’s burger, Vada Pav is savored by one and all Mumbaikars and visitors to the city alike.
The street food consists of a batter fried spicy mashed potato patty (Vada) sandwiched between a bun (Pav) served with a spicy green chili chutney, a dry red garlic chutney and at times a sour sweet tamarind chutney.
No one definitely knows how this iconic fast food dish became associated with Mumbai, but some unconfirmed sources authenticate the history and the journey of Vada Pav. The dish was started to be dished out on hand cart in the Dadar area of Mumbai in late 60s which became popular over the time among laborers, office goers and students as a quick bite on the run, eventually getting itself synonymous with Mumbai.
There are more than 50,000 Vada Pav stalls in Mumbai along with popping retail chains imitating an American Burger giant trying to capitalize on the Vada Pav’s iconic status by dishing out modern and experimental variants of the traditional dish.
However, there are few joints in Mumbai which standout when it comes to serving the best and original Mumbai Vada Pav.
We start from Dadar’s Ashok Vada Pav, which is located in the Kirti College vicinity. Also known as Kirti College Vada Pav locally, it is a joint which is a favorite among the Vada Pav lovers for the last 35 years. The owner claims that he uses more than 40 ingredients to make the dish along with the garnishing Chutneys and the joint has been mentioned and recommended in various food and travel magazines of local and international repute. Many celebrities such as Madhuri Dixit and Sushmita Sen often visit the place to enjoy Ashok Vada Pav’s offerings.
Moving ahead we go to CST area of Mumbai where situated is Aaram Vada Pav. Bang opposite the heritage CST Station in South Mumbai, Aaram Vada Pav has been serving the iconic dish for the last 70 years.
Next on our lineup is Graduate Vada Pav which is situated just outside the busy Byculla (W) station. It has been in business for the last 17 years and serves more than 2000 people on a daily basis. It offers various options in Chutneys ranging from Chili, Garlic, Coconut and Tamarind.
Samrat Vada Pav is quite famous in the western suburb of Vile Parle in Mumbai. Situated at Nehru road and near the Parleshwar temple, the joint offers different variants of the Vada such as Vada fried with Coconut pieces along with potato and Vada Pav with butter spread generously inside the bun.
Going ahead to the Thane suburb of Mumbai, we have Shree Durga Snacks which is based at the corner of Gokhale and Ram Maruti Road. There are no deaths of Vada Pav stalls in Thane but daily commuters take a 10 minute detour to have a taste of their special Vada Pavs which are full of extra crispy batter bits sprinkled on to the Vada and some generous dose of spicy garlic Chutney.
With the advent of globalization in India, many international fast food chains have popped up and how can the staple Vada Pav stay behind which is also colloquially known as ‘The Indian Burger’. With around 2 million Vada Pavs being served daily in Mumbai and surrounding areas, the street food had to go the globalized way.
Goli and Jumbo King are two major chains which are following the international food chain concept in serving the staple Vada Pav with a new twist of adding innovative garnishing such as cheese, Chhole and even Schezwan sauce to give it an oriental twist.
The Vada Pav may not be the stuff made especially for the Global kind, but it is many things to many people. It is simple, tasty and quite inexpensive in the age of expensive gourmet food which truly makes it ‘World Famous’ in India. No wonder, they have declared 23rd August as the World Vada Pav Day.