Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vada Pav

An article in last week's New York Times brought to mind my recent two-month trip through India. On a train in Rajasthan, I was getting very hungry. The train was several hours late and there was still a long way to go from Jaipur to Jodhpur. A vendor working the train came down the aisle selling snacks, which I had been warned against eating. I didn't want to get "Delhi belly," but I figured a sandwich he called "vegetable cutlet" didn't sound so bad. Turned out it was quite bad. Just a cold, soggy lozenge of fried potato between two pieces of white bread. The risk/reward ratio was not in my favor.

But later, on the streets of Mumbai, I eventually shed my fear of getting sick from street food and learned what a "vegetable cutlet" was truly intended to be: vada pav. As the Times article mentions, chef Anthony Bourdain singled out this humble snack as his favorite food in India. As described in the article by Kavitha Rao:
The vada pav is a glorious carb-on-carb overload — a spicy potato patty encased in a gram-flour coating, then sandwiched in a buttered bun and bathed in tangy garlic chutney.

The specimen in this photo was hot, crisp, well-spiced and delicious. In fact, I went back to the vendor for seconds. I wish I could find a street stall like this in New York!

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