Batata Vada – Batter Fried Crispy Potato Balls

An Ode to the Ubiquitous Vada Pav

Can you stop at just one?

“Vada pav, Vada pav”, yelled the little boy vendor, as the train chugged into the platform at Khopoli, a quaint & nondescript station on the busy Mumbai-Pune railway journey. Hordes of sweaty commuters overcrowded the doorways to the train, pushing to get off at the short halt and grab their share of this popular street food, before it ran out. And run out it did almost every time that any train stopped at this little station on the journey up the Western Ghats from Mumbai to Lonavala. You see Khopoli had earned itself quite a reputation since the late 70s, thanks to this cheap hi-carb fast food snack. And rightly so!

As a college student, I made this train journey almost every weekend from Mumbai, leaving on a Friday afternoon post college to visit my Uncle & his family in Lonavala. A regular on the 2.30pm train, I knew which vendor served the best snacky bites, be it deep fried gaudy yellow chilli cheese toast, vegetable cutlets, dry bhelpuri or raw mango & jambhul served in little cones. Come Khopoli, we all rushed out religiously for our favourite vada pav & then waited to gulp it down with some chilled sweet lassi that was sold in clean branded sachets with a straw, pre the tetra Pak era.

It was one of life’s simplest pleasures, but one that I looked forward to, every single weekend!

Before I go any further, it would only be apt to introduce the uninitiated to what is a Vada Pav.

Divine crispy fritters made of balls of spiced mashed potato, tossed with loads of zesty ginger garlic, green chillies & fresh coriander leaves, coated in spiced gram flour batter & deep fried.

These heaven-in-a-bite, potato fritters are then stuffed into a soft bun that’s been slathered with a variety of chutneys to suit every palate. I can assure you, the chutneys are just as important as the potato filling, choose between a sweet gooey tamarind chutney, a minty green chutney and a third dry one made of garlic, coconut & red chillies.

Another must-have accompaniment in this delish treat are the crispy fried green chillies that are served alongside and tons of crispy golden balls of batter or ‘chura’ to add some more crunch to the whole deal.

This inexpensive & soul satiating snack is served piping hot within seconds on a pre-cut square of newspaper, engulfing your mouth in a burst of a zillion flavours & textures, hot, cold, crunchy, spicy, sweet, minty, sour & an awesome hit of garlicky splendour too!

No wonder then, that despite starting out as this affordable meal of convenience for the teeming population of millworkers in Mumbai of the 70s, has now made it to the menu of most 5 star hotels in the city, having become synonymous with Mumbai !

Today’s commercial fastfood chains doing flourishing business of standardising the shape & taste across the country, while providing relief to poor souls like me in other cities, are unfortunately not a match to the rustic roadside experience at most street corners & authenticity of the secret family recipe that each Vada Pav street vendor boasts of!!

Recipe for Batata Vada – Batter Fried Crispy Potato Balls


For the potato filling:

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds / rai
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds / jeera
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida powder / hing
  • 2 green chillies, slit & finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, mashed & finely chopped
  • ½ inch piece ginger, finely chopped (optional)
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder / haldi
  • 250 gms potatoes, boiled & roughly chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves


  • 1.5 cups gram flour / besan
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder / haldi
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida powder / hing
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to your taste
  • ½ cup water or as required to form a thick smooth batter
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • oil for deep frying


  • In a deep saucepan or kadhai, heat 2 teaspoons oil and add 1 mustard seeds, cumin, hing & allow it to splutter. Add the green chillies, ginger, garlic, curry leaves & 1 tbsp coriander leaves. Saute lightly for a few seconds.
  • Add the boiled and chopped potatoes, turmeric powder & salt to taste.
  • Mix well to combine. Cover & cook with a lid on low flame for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice, sugar and remaining 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves. Mash the potato lightly with the back of your spoon.
  • Mix well making sure everything is well combined. Switch off the flame & allow it to cool covered.
  • To prepare the batter, in a large bowl whisk together gram flour and rice flour until smooth.
  • Add turmeric, chilli powder, asafoetida powder and salt & whisk to combine evenly.
  • Add ½ cup water or as required to get a thick smooth lump-free batter, whisking gently.
  • Now add ¼ teaspoon baking soda and mix well.
  • To fry, make small balls of the potato mixture and flatten lightly.
  • Heat oil in a saucepan for deep frying.
  • Dip each ball in the besan batter coating uniformly & deep fry in hot oil carefully.
  • Stir occasionally until the batata vada turns evenly golden and crisp.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon to drip off excess oil & drain over kitchen paper towel.
  • Enjoy your piping hot batata vadas with dry garlic chutney in a soft pav bread or just plain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: