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I ate three in a row: the Bombay burger, India’s favourite fast food – plus the recipe | Food and drink

Mumbai was the first cease on an eight-month, round-the-world journey I took with my husband in 2014. The longest time I’d spent out of the UK previous to this had been three weeks. I’d solely ever visited three locations exterior Europe, and it took me a complete yr to influence my different half to hitch me. And our principal goal for these months on the street? To eat.

We hurled ourselves in at the deep finish, beginning in Mumbai. It’s so huge and sprawling that it’s laborious to not assume the complete nation should lie inside this metropolis alone. It was at the very least 10 occasions as alive and chaotic and exhausting as I’d dared anticipate. Mumbai gives an unrelenting onslaught on all the senses, significantly listening to: the horn honking doesn’t cease.

Leyla Kazimand her husband Matt eating vada pavs in Mumbai
Leyla Kazimand her husband consuming vada pavs in Mumbai

I knew there can be a kaleidoscope of unbelievable food in Mumbai, however the place would a vacationer even start to start? To assist us distill the metropolis’s eateries right down to a handful that would not be missed on a first go to, I related with three native food bloggers – Sameer, Jahan and Jagruti – and spent a spectacular night scooting round the metropolis in a rickshaw, grazing on a few of the tastiest bites in city.

We scooped up raj kachoris at Elco in the upmarket Bandra district. These are nice large puris loaded with yoghurt, chutneys, bean sprouts, chickpeas, potato and fried crispy bits, completely inconceivable to eat in one chunk.

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One in every of India’s favourite fast meals is the vada – a deep-fried crispy ball or patty. At Prakash in busier Dadar, we stopped for a unfold of crunchy sabudana vadas, a mixture of soaked tapioca pearls, potato, floor peanuts, chilli, coriander and lemon juice, rolled into balls then fried.

That is the place the author ate

However all my excited anticipation was reserved for vada pav. I’d come to Mumbai nicely versed on the metropolis’s favourite avenue food and wanting to attempt what the bloggers deemed the most superior specimens.

Vada pavs are native to Maharashtra, the giant western state of which Mumbai is the capital, and typically known as a Bombay burger. It’s fast, low cost and comes in a bread roll – however I’d have this veggie snack over a burger most days.

The spicy potato balls are coated in gram (chickpea) flour, deep-fried and served with a lick of at the very least one sizzling chutney – usually a garlicky inexperienced one – in a delicate bun, with a blistered inexperienced chilli for good measure. They’re salty, spicy, supremely satisfying and the most cost-effective factor we had in the metropolis. Thirty rupees (roughly 30p) for 2.

Yow will discover distributors slinging these on each avenue nook in Mumbai and past, however solely about 5 stalls do them rather well. We had ours in the north-west of the metropolis, from Dhiraj Vada Pav, a few blocks from the seaside in Juhu, reverse prestigious Mithibai Faculty. Recent from the fryer and nonetheless too sizzling to deal with, they had been a robust contender for the favourite factor to go my lips throughout the complete 5 weeks I spent in India. I assume I ate three in a row.

Mumbai’s vada pav sandwich with chutneys

Vada Pav from Maharashtra, India
Vada Pav.
{Photograph}: Neha Sadaye/Alamy

Makes six

For the inexperienced chutney
Recent mint, small bunch
Coriander, small bunch (together with stalks)
1-2 inexperienced chillies, roughly chopped
1 tbsp floor almonds
Juice
of half a lemon
Salt

For the crimson chutney
3 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1-2 tsp chilli powder
Salt

For the vada potato balls
3 potatoes, boiled and mashed
2 inch piece of recent ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
3 inexperienced chillies, finely chopped
1/2 tsp asafoetida
Handful of recent coriander, finely chopped (together with stalks)
Salt

For the batter and frying
150g gram (chickpea) flour
1/4 tsp turmeric
80ml heat water
Salt
Sunflower oil

To serve
Six small delicate white rolls
Butter (elective)
Six inexperienced finger chillies, deep-fried

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First make the chutneys. For the inexperienced, mix the mint, coriander, chillies and floor almonds, add a few of the lemon juice, and blitz. Hold including lemon juice till you’ve got a spreadable consistency – it shouldn’t be too moist. You could not want all the lemon juice. Add salt to style.

For the crimson chutney, toast the coconut in a dry pan till it turns a good color, mix with the garlic, chilli powder and a pinch of salt, then pound utilizing a pestle and mortar. Add a splash of water if wanted to loosen the combination barely – it needs to be dry and crumbly. Set each chutneys apart.

To make the potato balls, warmth the oil in a frying pan on a medium to excessive warmth. When it’s sizzling sufficient for one mustard seed to sizzle, add the remainder of the mustard seeds and the asafoetida. When the mustard seeds begin popping vigorously, cut back the warmth to low to medium and add the ginger, garlic and chillies. Cook dinner for one minute, then add the turmeric and prepare dinner for an additional minute.

Now add the mashed potato and recent coriander, totally mix and prepare dinner for an additional minute. Add salt to style. Take away the mashed potato from the pan and put aside to chill.

Weigh the complete quantity of potato and divide this quantity by six so you know the way a lot every portion ought to weigh – mine had been about 75g every. Measure out six parts and roll into balls together with your fingers. Put aside.

To make the batter, mix the gram flour with the turmeric and a pinch of salt. Add the water a little at a time, mixing with a whisk till you’ve got a clean and pretty thick batter. Put aside.

Fill a heavy-bottomed saucepan with sufficient sunflower oil to succeed in midway up the vada balls. Warmth on medium to excessive. To check if the oil is sizzling sufficient, add a little batter. If it sizzles and cooks to a golden color, it’s prepared. First drop in the six finger chillies. After they’ve cooked and blistered, take away and drain on kitchen paper.

Coat every ball in the batter, and gently drop into the sizzling oil. Flip the ball round in the oil till the complete factor is cooked and golden. Take away with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat for all the balls.

To serve, slice every roll in half and butter, if desired. Smear on some inexperienced chutney, add a vada ball, a few of the dry crimson chutney and a deep-fried chilli, and devour.

Leyla Kazim is a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme and a digital creator specialising in journey and food. Observe her on social media @thecutlerychronicles and @leylalaa

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