Potato + Fried = Love

Vada Pav

I love shooting for the Wall Street Journal. They always have such great recipes and they love to use pretty props! Can’t go wrong with that combo. I want to share my most recently published image which illustrates vada pav, an Indian street food that unfortunately I’ve only experienced in Noho Studios. But to me, anything made of potato and then fried is a good thing and there’s nothing wrong with just bringing India home. Also, if you leave the “pav” (bun) out, this is totally gluten-free. The “vada” part is a mixture of chunky mashed potatoes, curry leaves, cilantro, mustard seeds and other spices, dipped in a turmeric- and chili-powder-laced chickpea flour batter, then deep fried and eaten with chutneys. So, get to your nearest Patel Brothers and fry up some spicy love this winter. (Food styling by Karen Evans, prop styling by Daniel Murphy.)

Recipe via the Wall Street Journal, by Rob Mifsud:

Vada Pav
Serves: 4-8
Hands-On Time: 1 hour
Total Time:1½ hours

For the green chutney:
2¼ cups cilantro leaves, tightly packed 
1/2 cup mint leaves, tightly packed 
2 serrano chilis 
Pinch of salt 
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a food processor with ¼ cup water. Process until a thin sauce forms. Add more water if necessary to achieve a slightly watery consistency.

For the red chutney:
1 cup dried unsweetened coconut 
10 cloves garlic 
2 tablespoons red chili powder 
2 teaspoons vegetable oil 
Pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until a sticky powder forms with the consistency of wet sand. Add more oil if necessary.

For the batter:
1 cup gram (chickpea) flour 
1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder 
Pinch of salt
Whisk together ingredients in a large bowl. Continue to whisk while adding ¾ cup water until a thick, smooth batter forms. Let rest at least 15 minutes.

For the potato mixture:
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (approximately 5) 
1 quart plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil 
1½ teaspoons black mustard seeds 
6 curry leaves, torn 
2 teaspoons puréed garlic (finely minced is acceptable) 
1 teaspoon puréed ginger 
1 serrano chili (or more to taste), seeded and finely chopped 
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste) 
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro 
8 seedless hamburger buns
1. Peel and halve the potatoes. Cook in boiling water until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes. Drain. Mash using a potato masher until smooth with a few lumps.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves and cook until the seeds start to pop. Add garlic, ginger and chilis and cook briefly. Stir in potatoes and salt. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
3. Divide potato mixture into eight equal portions and roll into balls. (Both chutneys, the batter and the potato balls can be stored overnight, covered tightly with plastic wrap, at this point. The green chutney will oxidize slightly.)
4. Heat 1 quart oil over medium-high heat in a wok or Dutch oven until it reaches 325 degrees.
5. Roll the potato balls in the batter and add to the hot oil one by one. Cook, turning occasionally, until they are golden brown, 3 minutes.
6. Spread red chutney on one half of a hamburger bun, and green chutney on the other half. Place hot potato vada between bun. Press down to flatten slightly.


  1. Joanne Donne March 28, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Love your blog!

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