Like most Indian food that is created to satiate the hunger of the working class, Mumbai’s favourite, the vada pav has a similar backstory rooted in the mid-’60s.
Synonymous with the culture of Maximum City, this modest dish, often served with spicy red chutney and fried green chillies, is believed to be invented by Ashok Vaidya.
Ashok decided to become a small-time entrepreneur as he was motivated by that time’s socio-political scenario.
“In 1966, my father used to sell traditional vadas and poha at his small shop in Mumbai. Meanwhile, the bun pav became a hot new trend among mill workers,” says Narendra, son of Ashok.
Understanding the need for a pocket-friendly and quick meal for the mill workers he catered to, Ashok placed the deep-friend vada with a potato filling between pav and served it with chutney. Within a short span of time, Ashok’s vada pav became an instant hit among the mill workers.
From then on, be it morning, noon or night, people formed lines to collect their daily dose of the vada pav from Ashok’s stall while others started selling this invention all over the city.
At the age of 58, Ashok passed away on July 6, 1998. However, Narendra took over his father’s business and still serves hot vada pavs at platform number 1 on the western line of Dadar railway station.
The Vada Pav, which became a hit over 50 years ago, still continues to occupy a special space in every individual’s heart.
Since then, the humble vada pav has travelled to many other cities and small towns, which offer this snack with their own variation and a secret ingredient.
Every year, August 23 is also considered as World Vada Pav Day. And rightly so, as this Indian version of the burger has fans from the young and the old, the rich and the poor.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)