How old is Mumbai’s iconic ‘Vada Pav’? Know the family who invented it.
Since we are going on a history trip here, would you be surprised to know that the origins of the word Batata (Potato) and also the word Pav (Bread) trace back to the Portuguese although they didn’t invent the vada pav.
Vada Pav at Tasneem’s Kings Kitchen
The credit for inventing the rustic and mouth-watering Vada Pav goes to Ashok Vaidya in the 1960s. He was inspired by the socio-political scenario at that time.
Vaidya set up a stall outside Dadar Station (1966) through which hundreds and thousands of workers passed every day on their way to the textile mills in suburban areas such as Parel and Worli. He began selling Vada and Poha alongside a stall that sold Omelette Pav. He one
fine day experimented placing a Vada between Pav along with some chutney to add more flavor. The result of the experiment ‘Vada Pav’ became an instant hit in no time.
The 1970s and 80s were tumultuous times with numerous strikes that eventually led to the closing of many textile mills. Resultantly, many former mill workers opened Vada Pav stalls of their own with the encouragement of the political party in the State at that time. Very soon, Vada Pav witnessed a dramatic rise. It began to be recognized as a go-to snack for the working class. It was easy to make, cheap, and convenient to eat. These factors led to a boom in its popularity among those who had no time or luxury to eat amidst their long commuting hours in overcrowded local trains.
The 1990s saw the arrival of the American fast-food chain McDonald’s in India and expanding rapidly. However, it could not take over Maharashtra’s obsession with the Vada Pav. This was mainly because of the reason that Mcdonald’s burgers are made according to a standard recipe and by using various equipment. This mechanization results in all the burgers tasting the same.
However, this is not the case with Vada Pav. Almost all the sellers boast of a secret recipe and ingredient that make their Vada Pav different. In a country like India, having a multitude of cultures, this is what Indians want. We want different tastes to serve to the demands of our diverse taste buds, and McDonald’s failed to cater to this at that time.
In the year 2000, Mumbai-based entrepreneur Dheeraj Gupta, foreseeing an economic opportunity opened a Vada Pav chain, ‘JumboKing’. He advertised it as the “Indian Burger” which eventually led to JumboKing opening 75 outlets in Mumbai alone, with each selling more than 500 Vada Pav every day.
Thanks to the popularity of this snack, a range of different Vada Pav chains have opened all over India.
In the year 2015, director Aalambayan Siddharth made a 5-minute documentary movie ‘Vada Pav Inc.’, which put light on Ashok Vaidya and his journey as the creator of the Vada Pav. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NycL2-V6HXk
Ashok Vaidya passed away on July 6, 1998 at the age of 58. However, his son Narendra took over his father’s business and still serves hot vada pavs outside platform number 1 on the western line of Dadar railway station.
Vada Pav & Kheema Pav at Tasneem’s Kings Kitchen
The Vada Pav, which became a hit over 50 years ago, still continues to occupy a special space people’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.
August 23 is also considered as World Vada Pav Day. And rightly so, as this Indian version of the burger has created fans ranging from the young and the old, the rich and the poor.
Ashok Vaidya’s invention, Vada Pav, brought all of Maharashtra together and blurred any lines of divide. From film stars to cricketers to politicians and industrialists to daily wage laborers, all are fans of this Indian invention the ‘Vada pav’.