Vada Pav – Indian Potato Burgers

ATW with Manu - Vana Pav

Vada Pav – Indian Potato Burgers

In episode 3 of “Around the World with Manu” I made Vada Pav, also called Wanapow, to sell on the train from Mumbai to Kolkata.

An Indian version of a burger, the fragrant potato vada is served in a pav (bread roll) with spicy chutney and a fried chilli. They were such a hit on the train that I sold out in 15 minutes — maybe I should have saved a few for the 28-hour trip!

Makes 16 burgers


  • 750 g desiree or other mashing potato
  • 120 ml sunflower oil
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 6 – 8 green chillis, finely chopped
  • 8 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 1 large handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped

For the batter

  • 500 g chickpea (besan) flour
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 250 ml water, plus extra if required

For the chilli chutney

  • 20 cloves garlic
  • 10 green chillis
  • 1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes

To serve

  • 16 small green chillis
  • 16 soft white rolls


  1. Submerge whole potatoes in a saucepan of cold water and place over a high heat. Cover, bring to the boil and cook for 10 – 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain, set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add mustard seeds, coriander seeds, caraway, turmeric powder and curry leaves and fry for 1 – 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and cook for a further minute then remove from heat.
  3. Crush the peeled potatoes with your fingers, letting the pieces fall into the pan with the oil and spices.
    • Add the fresh coriander and using your hands (preferably with gloves, unless you want a lovely yellow stain for a few days) stir and knead the mixture gently until well combined. The potatoes will release some starch as you mix that will help to bind the patties.
    • Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste then oil your hands lightly and roll about 2 Tbsp of mixture into a golf-ball sized round. Repeat with remaining potato to make 16 patties.
  4. For the batter, place chickpea flour, turmeric and baking powder into a bowl and whisk to combine. Gradually add the 250 ml water, whisking continuously until a smooth batter is formed. You may need a bit more or a bit less water, however you want the consistency of a thick cake batter — if it’s too thin it won’t coat the patties.
  5. Heat a large saucepan of oil or a deep fryer to 200°C. Dip potato balls into the batter and allow to drain a little before carefully dropping in the hot oil. Cook few potato balls at a time — being careful not to crowd the pan — for 2 – 3 minutes, turning occasionally until golden. Remove and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Keep warm while you cook the remaining balls.
  6. While the oil is still hot, fry the fresh chillis for a minute until slightly golden. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  7. For chutney, place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. To serve, split rolls and place a vada (potato ball) into the bun. Dress with chutney and serve with a crispy fried chilli on the side.

ATW with Manu - India

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