A Bonda is a Bonda

05 Aug

It might be heresy but I’m not afraid to say it – I don’t get the Mumbaikar’s love for the vada pav. I get the utility factor of it, but at the end of the day, it’s still a freaking bonda stuck into a bun and slathered with chutney.

Now the pav bhaji, I understand. The contrast in textures, the hint of butter, the teekha, the lime carrying the weight of the spices, the way the pav mops up the bhaji… it’s all around deliciousness! (And now I’m hungry.) If ever a dish deserved acclamation, the pav bhaji is it.

The vada pav on the other hand sits there like the bonda it is (here’s my new fave chef showing you the intricacies of the ‘oloo bonda’), glumping over the poor pav and killing it entirely with its weight before scratching its way down your throat and settling in your stomach like lead. And don’t tell me I haven’t had the “right one” – it’s vada pav, not a potential husband.

If I must eat bondas, then make mine a Mysore bonda (VahChef has a version for this too!) and dunk it in some Udipi sambar. Yummy.

Oh well.


Posted by on August 5, 2009 in Life, Video


30 responses to “A Bonda is a Bonda

  1. pitu

    August 5, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Nooooooooooooooooooooo I can’t hear you *hands over ears and eye squeezed shut* lalalalallallaaa!

  2. shilpadesh

    August 5, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    First time here.
    You REALLY haven’t had the right one Indiequill!

  3. Amey

    August 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    The contrast in textures of pav and vada, the hint of imli, the chutney increasing the hotness of vada, the slight soggy sweetness of pav because of imli pani (no other way to translate that)… you really haven’t had The Right One.

    In fact, I would say, you haven’t got the vada-pav, calling vada a “bonda” is blasphemy.

  4. Unmana

    August 5, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I agree. I don’t get the vada-pav either. I don’t like either vada or pav by itself either.

    Pav-bhaji on the other hand, is yummmm.

  5. Nandini Vishwanath

    August 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I agree again. But the no. of Mumbaikars who will respond to this should serve as a census of that city, am sure 😉

    And – Vah Chef – 😛

    Waiting for Gradwolf’s passionate defence of Mumbai and its food.


  6. AnuK

    August 5, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    First time here.

    Loved your entries!

    My 2 paise. Sambar wins hands down over dry garlic chutney for moistness and taste. But it’s too messy as a daily bite for mumbaikars on the go, with no time/place to sit, or even clean their hands (both before and after a roadside meal).

    Wonder what happened to the Shiv Sena zunka bhakar stands, that they had to resort to vada pav.

  7. sachita

    August 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Unlike you, I end up feeling a bit sad for the pav when it is with bonda:)
    But as someone once told me, one can really judge a chaat item unless they have had it sitting on the jamakalams(or whatever thingy is called) on Juhu beach.

    Potato: Potayto, Bonda:vada in vada pav, Bhaji: Pakora, Bhajia:Pakoda -> like that.
    Obv. whoever carried the recipe across the lang. border forgot to jot down the names right.

    • pitu

      August 5, 2009 at 11:43 pm

      Actually Maharashtrians have a different pakoda type item called ‘bonda bhaza’ which is totally different from batata vada, since it doesn’t have potato stuffing.

  8. M

    August 5, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Ha! You got it lady! Mysore Bonda over the aloo-in-besan thingy anyday!
    Mysore bonda with good coconut chutney – ah, heaven.

  9. Naren

    August 5, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    There is a low-potato version of the wada. It’s called the alu-minimum of course.

  10. Broom

    August 6, 2009 at 12:11 am

    because I like you, I will pretend you didn’t just say that.
    *forgive her, vada pav, for she knows not what she says*

  11. Chevalier

    August 6, 2009 at 12:14 am

    You not only insulted the holy vada pav of the Marathas, you’re actually blogging about it on a searchable-, findable-for-all-eternity site. And you don’t seem to have any pink chaddi electric fences put up for the Shiv Sena brigade that will undoubtedly find you, sooner or later.
    Wah! Amrita is courageous, no doubt – the Indie doesn’t Quail, huh?

  12. buddy

    August 6, 2009 at 1:15 am

    heres where we must part ways.
    It was good while it lasted.

    No one calls a vada pao a bonda an front of me. No one.

  13. maidinmalaysia

    August 6, 2009 at 3:28 am

    i agree. vada pav is a bun that has an identity crisis.

  14. Gradwolf

    August 6, 2009 at 3:51 am

    LOl, Nandini knows me too well!

    Ok, I don’t mind if you want to call it Bonda. But cmon, not giving Vada Pav its credit is romba too much! I am going to paraphrase Amey – seriously, the spiciness increasing with the hint of chutney, the soggy taste as you bite into the final portions, the hot vada inside a room temperature pav. Aiyo, if you don’t like this – enna koduma saravanan idhu!

    Try Guptajis at Bhavans campus. Try Shri krishna in Dadar. Am sure Amey and pitu will have many more places.

    But definitely, being from Madras, I really don’t mind if you want to call it Potato bonda pav. Whats in a name.

    Pav Bhaji is heaven, but then the bottomline is – You can tolerate a Pav Bhaji even in Saravana Bhavan, but for vada pav, you need to go to the right place serving it the right way. Cha!

  15. DewdropDream

    August 6, 2009 at 4:39 am

    Hahahahaha!!!! Yeah I know, bonda only. Still, I like calling it vada pav and the best I had was somewhere in Lonavla, on the way to Pune, ages ages ago. I don’t mind the Mysore bonda … (and I lived in the place for half my life!)

    Pav bhaji on the other hand, it is delicious, the way you’ve described it. Unfortunately I had a traumatising incident involving a not-so-good-a-cook aunt trying to make ‘diet’ pav bhaji (think carrots substituted for potatoes), the masala all wrong … and all this on New Year’s Eve. Sigh. Never been able to stomach pav bhaji since.

  16. Mamma Mia! Me a Mamma?!?

    August 6, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Oh thank god I’m not the only one who thinks this way about the vada pav!! Phew!

  17. rads

    August 6, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Really? Did you really have to post this, links included. Should I even be working. It’s fillin 10 45 am in the morning and am salivating for pav bhaji or vada pav or anything remotely resembling their cousin. FYI, the nearest place dishing it for me is 14 miles away. 😐

  18. BlueMist

    August 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Since you are sweet; we can act that we did not listen that !! 😀
    But the way you say yummy about “unknown identity- bonda and sambar” we say yummy about vada-pav 😀

  19. maxdavinci

    August 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    * yawns at silly ppl fighting over names*

    food is food, no racism, no favoritism.

    khao piyio mast raho

    * goes back to ROFLing at wahchef *

  20. shilpadesh

    August 6, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Ok I HAD to come back to comment. having said that you might not have had the REAL vada pav, might I also add that in addition to the ‘bonda’ a vada pav also has the 2 chutneys(red and green), an aloo bhaji and sometimes a green chili….and this combination will truly sweep you off your feet…I guarantee it…give it another try sweetie!

  21. Chevalier

    August 6, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Oh, I do have to confess. I was hoping the Shiv Sainiks and the Ram Seni(le)s would do my job for me and properly castigate you for daring to criticize the vada pav. Looks like those guys can’t be trusted even to do their jobs now.

    The Vada Pav is NOT a bonda – try a real vada pav some day and then we’ll talk. Or you may, I’ll just keep stuffing myself with the potato-filled-garlic-laced-carb-stuffed-spicy-as-hell-bites-of-heaven that the things are.

    I would be more in ‘buddy’s camp above but I just couldn’t leave your blog, for where else could I get my weekly dose of snarky Bollywood and desh nostalgia served feminist-smarty-pants-style?

    So please recant, or just cease-and-desist, and let’s pretend you never said this, and I can still hang around here. Please? pretty please with some garlic chutney and green chilli on the side?

  22. Banno

    August 7, 2009 at 12:41 am

    No, a bonda is horribly fried. And the bread fried too. Yucks. A vada is a perfect mix of curry patta, green chilly, boiled potatos, and rai. Fried in a minimalistic crust of besan. Had with garlic chilly chutney.

    Must have on Mumbai-Pune highway. Without which, no entry to Lonavala.

  23. dipali

    August 7, 2009 at 4:56 am

    I never thought it would evoke such strong feelings. I’m a foodie, I love ’em all- vada pavs, bondas, etc. Bring ’em on:)

  24. girlonthebridge

    August 7, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Whaaa? Umm pls to be not telling me about batata vada vs. bonda. I am a Tam Brahm subject to many such bondas in her life and I don’t use the words “subject to” lightly. But as a ex-Bombayite I know you cannot, just cannot compare it to the batata vada. I have had many a Pati and Maami pretend it is such while I tried to gulp the bonda down with my filter coffee in stainless steel tumbler but please believe me when I say….it is NOT the same. And no you don’t have to have the right one. Just get into any train, any platform, those are all the right ones.

  25. Amrita

    August 7, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Dear Bonda Vada pav lovers,

    Truth hurts! Muahahahaha! This might help.

    But seriously, I’ve had it at that place in Dadar and outside Mithibai and at the beacj and on various roadstall by the highway type places – and they all taste like a bonda in a pav. A Maharashtrian bonda if you insist, but still…. you can’t get away from its intrinsic bonda-ness. Give me a buttery hot pav with the two chutneys and I think i’d like it more.

    PS – Hi, Shilpadesh and AnuK! Welcome to the blog – even if its killing you! 😀

    PPS – Nandini, Rads and Max: VahChef is my latest obsession! I could listen to him cook and then eat with the sound effects for hours!

  26. Orange Jammies

    August 8, 2009 at 5:09 am

    Lord forgive the Southerner. She calls it a ‘b-o-n-d-a’.
    Speaking of foods Bambaiyya, that’s my latest post.

  27. Amey

    August 8, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Lady, you have been to rediff message boards one times too many. “Maharashtrian” bonda? Next you will start talking about Indian Chinese food and how that is same as actual Chinese food.

    As for comparing vada-pav and pav-bhaji, they are like “Andaz Apna Apna” and “Sarfarosh”. Both (movies, not dishes) have Aamir Khan in them, but not exactly made for same mood, know what I am saying? (BTW, by this logic, DDD’s diet pav-bhaji is like “Luck”. And we all know how that turned out to be.)

  28. Karthikk

    August 11, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Noooooooo!!! This is my first visit and I read this!!! I had to comment… A bonda is a bonda and a batata vada is a batata vada and with pav and the chutneys with chilli and peanut chutney on the side it tastes awesome!!!! I have been craving for that one vada pav here in the US and you write this!!!! Please try it again and say its different 🙂

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