Sunday, April 25, 2010

Angrezi vada pav sells for Rs 240 in London

Anshu Ahuja introduces Londoners to Mumbai's favourite snack, the vada pav. Rechristened the Bombay Burger, it's selling fast at her stall in the farmers' market

Every second Saturday of the month, TV producer Anshu Ahuja dons the chef's hat and a bright pink apron and sets out to the Farmers' Market in the Stoke Newington district of London to sell vada pavs.

"The idea came to me sometime last year when I was in between jobs and needed to think up ways to make money.

That's when it struck me that the vada pav is a marketable product," says Anshu, who used to stay in Bandra before moving to the UK.

Anshu Ahuja and two of her Brit friends dole out piping hot vada pavs at an organic market in London

Anshu sourced the recipes off the all-knowing Internet and relied on the memory of her taste buds to tweak them perfectly.

"I've always enjoyed cooking, and being a Bombay girl, I was confident about lending authenticity to the recipe," says the 30-year-old.

While a piping hot vada pav sells for under Rs 10 at every street corner in the city, at Anshu's cheekily named Bombay Burger Company stall, it costs a whopping Rs 240 ( £ 3.50).

The price tag, however, doesn't seem to be a deterrent, given that Anshu's entire stock of 80 large vada pavs, fried at the stall itself, usually sells out within two hours flat.

While the deep-fried snack can hardly be considered healthy, it's better off than its Indian counterpart since Anshu sources her ingredients from the market itself where all of the produce is grown organically.

Since organic tamarind is hard to come by, the chutney is a product of her experiments with sweet and sour tomato paste.

Customers can decide how much spice they want with their vada, and surprisingly most like theirs quite hot.

Anshu's future plans include introducing a sweet version of the vada, lentil vadas and Kheema Pav.

Interestingly, Anshu's clientele include more than just homesick NRIs. "People in London love Indian food and Stoke Newington is a bit like Bandra, really.

It is very multi-cultural," says Anshu, adding: "They sometimes ask me if I can wrap the vada in a bun instead of a pav, while others want it in takeaway boxes to give to their kids for lunch.

It's really a veggie burger in its own right."