After ingesting 900 calories worth of vada pavs in less than 24 hours, Lounge is in a reliable position to tell you whether the newest supplier of the beloved Mumbai carb bombs is any good or not.
The Shiv Sena has started an enterprise called Shiv Vada Pav to provide employment to Maharashtrian youth and promote Mumbai’s favourite snack. White bread and fried potato is not doing the arteries of already stressed out Mumbaikars’ any good, but we can’t seem to get enough of it. So, apart from roadside stalls selling the spicy burgers, the city also has two corporatized vada pav chains—JumboKing and Goli. Shiv Vada Pav has 22 kiosks so far in Greater Mumbai, and plans to ramp up that number to over 500 in a few months.
Now as vada pavs go, JumboKing is as authentic as a “Made in India” pizza. It’s more quantity than quality, and has mutated into Schezuan vada pavs and paneer makhani vada pavs. Not for the sensitive of palate.
Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
To research my tasting assignment, I sampled a vada pav from a Maharashtrian family that sets up shop in Dadar every evening. They came recommended as the real thing by our in-house son of the soil. With that solid grounding, I was ready to take on more.
Shiv Vada Pav at Shivaji Park is a cart painted yellow and orange. It’s supposed to start dishing out vadas from 10am, but we get our first one only at 11.15am, half an hour after we arrive. “Nobody comes that early,” says the young man at the counter, busy layering the top of his gleaming stainless steel cart with newspaper sheets.
Four persons man the stall—two to make the potato patties, dip them in batter and fry them, and two to serve. Three are in orange shirts with the brand logo, one is in a Megadeth tee. They all start out wearing disposable gloves, but most of these are soon discarded. We don’t really mind, it looks clean and if we wanted glove-fingered vada pav we’d go to JumboKing.
The good stuff
Finally, the vadas are ready; the pav is liberally rubbed with the fiery-looking lasun powder, stuffed with a vada and served on a paper plate with a tissue. There’s nothing like a piping hot vada pav—even the most mediocre ones are sublime if eaten fresh. But this one is not mediocre; it is, in fact, quite good. A crispy outside, with a reasonably spicy potato filling. The dough casing of the vada is not too thick, nor too thin. The pav is fresh and soft, not the crumbly, stale variety. This is how you want a vada pav to be—as authentic as the one’s served by the better street vendors.
The red garlic chutney powder had a hint of raw garlic to it. And waiting half an hour for what is a snack on the go is unacceptable.
A vada pav costs Rs6.