Pioneer of Mumbai's iconic Vada Pav: Remembering Ashok Vaidya today!

Pioneer of Mumbai's iconic Vada Pav: Remembering Ashok Vaidya today!

#WorldVadaPavDay: "Mumbai aaye aur vada pav nahi khaya, toh kya khaya?"

Vada Pav is a popular Maharashtrian street food that has become synonymous with Mumbai's food culture, over the years. True-blue Mumbaikars know that a stuffed aloo patty, thrusted into the core of a pillowy pav with a side of zesty chutney, is always the solution for hunger!

Further, vada pavs are inexpensive, filling and easily available, which make it even more sought after. In essence, vada pav extends a cocktail of flavours and is an ideal on-the-go snack, especially for a city that is always on the move. Truly, international burger chains cannot top the flavour profile of this versatile yet humble snack! So on this World Vada Pav Day, let's dig into the history of this dish and how Mumbaikars came to love it.

Where it all started: Then Vs Now

Ashok Vaidya
Ashok Vaidya

The genesis of the renowned Mumbai street food, Vada Pav, is ascribed to Ashok Vaidya, who ingeniously introduced this culinary masterpiece during the 1960s. As the story goes, Vaidya had set up a modest stall right outside of Dadar Station, initially offering only Vada and Poha. On the other hand his stall was situated opposite another kiosk, that specialised in Omelette Pav.

While working here, Ashok astutely noticed the city's burgeoning predilection for pav. Taking cognizance of the situation, he decided to place his flavourful vada within the pav, accompanied by a delectable garlic chutney. This pioneering concoction quickly struck a chord with the masses, especially nearby mill workers, and it became an occasion of our beloved Vada Pav's birth. And the rest is history!

Although this snack became a city-wide hit, due to financial and other constraints, Ashok's dream of expanding his stall into a proper shop remained unfulfilled. But his younger son, Narendra Vaidya, has proudly upheld his legacy, all these years. Even to this day, Narendra can be spotted around Platform Number 1 at Dadar Station, manning his iconic stall - just like his father used to!

In conjunction with the timeless offerings, Narendra's vada pav stall now has a diverse menu, including items such as samosas, pakoras, and an array of other quick snacks. Even today, Mumbaikars and tourists flock to this quaint joint, in search of a classic Vada Pav experience! Oh, you can always expect a queue here and rightfully so, given the kisok's popularity.

Directed by Aalambayan Siddharth, there is also a short documentary, which traces Ashok Vaidya's legacy. Back in 2015, this docu was even selected for the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.

Knock Knock

Vada pavs remind us of school days, rainy weather and budget-friendly hangouts with friends and no fancy burger can match up to this. And although Mumbai now offers a variety of fusion vada pavs, the classic charms of this modest dish can never be outshone!

This famous Mumbai street food brings along a generous share of nostalgia with it, and it's not surprising that there is an entire day dedicated to it! So if you want to 'taste' Mumbai, eat a vada pav first.

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