Street food is one of the things I miss most about living in India—specifically vada pav. Imagine a hearty, aromatic potato patty with a crisp chickpea flour exterior, which gets served on a soft, savory bun, topped with a simple, flavorful dry coconut-garlic chutney, and paired with fried green chiles. Vada here refers to the deep-fried potato patty and pav to the bun. Serve with drizzles of cilantro and tamarind chutneys (homemade or store-bought) for a fresh spicy kick and some sweetness. While vada pav might be a labor of love, you’ll be rewarded in flavor for the effort. —Rachel Gurjar
Watch Rachel make this vada pav on our YouTube channel.
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cup unsweetened shredded coconut
garlic cloves, unpeeled, smashed
tsp. Kashmiri chile powder or paprika
tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt
tsp. cayenne pepper
Vada and Assembly
cup chickpea flour
Tbsp. rice flour
tsp. Diamond Crystal or 2½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
tsp. ground turmeric, divided
tsp. cayenne pepper
lb. medium russet potatoes, peeled
Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. vegetable oil, plus more for frying (about 8 cups)
fresh curry leaves
2″ piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
green Thai chiles, 2 thinly sliced, 10 whole
tsp. black mustard seeds
bunch cilantro, leaves chopped
Tbsp. fresh lime juice
kaiser rolls, split
Homemade or store-bought cilantro chutney and tamarind chutney (for serving; optional)
A deep-fry thermometer
Toast ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut in a dry medium skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let cool.
Add 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled, smashed, to same skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer (skin and all) to food processor along with 2 tsp. Kashmiri chile powder or paprika, 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and ½ tsp. cayenne pepper. Pulse until mixture is coarsely chopped (small pieces of garlic peel are okay).
Do Ahead: Chutney can be made 2 days ahead. Transfer to an airtight container; cover and chill.
Vada and assembly
Whisk 1 cup chickpea flour, 2 Tbsp. rice flour, 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt, ½ tsp. ground turmeric, ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper, and ¾ cup water in a medium bowl until smooth. Set batter aside.
Place 2 lb. medium russet potatoes, peeled, in a large pot and pour in water to cover by 2″; season generously with salt. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, 25–30 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to pot (off heat); let cool slightly. Using a fork, coarsely mash potatoes; set aside.
Heat 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. vegetable oil in a medium pot over medium-high until shimmering. Cook 10 fresh curry leaves, one 2″ piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped, 2 green Thai chiles, thinly sliced, ⅛ tsp. asafetida, and 1 tsp. black mustard seeds, stirring, until mustard seeds begin to pop and curry leaves are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in remaining ½ tsp. ground turmeric.
Scrape curry-leaf mixture into pot with reserved potatoes; mix until potatoes are evenly stained with turmeric. Mix in ½ bunch cilantro, leaves chopped, 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, and 2½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1½ tsp. Morton kosher salt. Taste and add more salt if needed. When mixture is cool enough to handle, form into six 4″-diameter patties; flatten tops.
Pour vegetable oil into a large pot to come 3″ up sides; fit with thermometer. Heat oil over medium until thermometer registers 350°. Working in 3 batches, gently dip patties in reserved batter, turning a couple times to coat and letting excess drip back into bowl. Fry, turning halfway through and adjusting heat as needed to maintain oil temperature, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer vadas to paper towels. Between batches, scoop out any stray bits of batter with a slotted spoon and stir into coconut-garlic chutney.
(If desired, use slotted spoon to drop beads of remaining batter into oil; fry until crisp and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer fried bits—up to about ½ cup—to coconut-garlic chutney; stir to combine. Discard any remaining batter and/or bits.)
Cut a small slit in remaining 10 green Thai chiles (to prevent exploding). Fry chiles until slightly blistered, about 30 seconds. Transfer to paper towels and immediately season with salt.
Spoon a tablespoonful of coconut-garlic chutney onto bottom buns of 6 kaiser rolls, split. Top with vadas and another teaspoonful of coconut-garlic chutney, followed by teaspoonfuls of cilantro chutney and tamarind chutney (if desired). Close sandwiches and serve with fried chiles.