Indian Sandwich Recipe – The Tastiest Masala Vada Pav

This recipe takes the infamous Indian street meal, the tasty, crispy vada pav sandwich, and tweaks it ever-so-slightly. In place of the usual potato dumpling inside, we’re going to make a beautiful spiced dal with chickpeas and lentils. Indian cuisine is known for its naans and chappatis, just like the gorgeous Indian flatbread I’ve posted right here. But it isn’t known so well for its sandwiches. This recipe takes the flavours of South India, just like you might find in a delicious Keralan curry, and crams them all into a beautiful, crispy sandwich. Perfect!

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I only discovered street food quite recently. It might be fairer to say I only rediscovered street food quite recently. I have worked for many years in high end establishments and it might be fair to say I had developed a bit of a bias.

A restaurant nearby serves wonderful street food for just a few pennies. It is situated in a market just outside the centre of the city. A very simple place, the layout is basic and the menu straightforward. Empty and with the menus hidden away, you could easily confuse it for a classroom.

But the food is fantastic. They serve beautiful, spicy Vietnamese, Thai and Malaysian classics. The crockery and cutlery is as simplistic as it comes. The food comes out in simple bowls not dissimilar to school dinner trays. And it tastes absolutely phenomenal.

That’s when I realised how much I was missing. All of a sudden everything started clicking into place. Why did I believe I needed food refined to the point of being unrecognisable? A stone’s throw away, there were skilled cooks throwing together delicious food. All I had to do was step outside and I would find things that would blow my mind. Incredible soul food. Exotic Middle-Eastern meals. All right there in the city I thought I knew!

I had to readdress the things I thought I knew. I adore Indian food. But what do I adore about it? I know I love a good curry. I even like to think I know a thing or two about regional cuisine. But what’s the origin of all of that knowledge? It’s good old fashioned Indian takeaways. And if I can get behind a proper Indian takeaway, who am I to turn my nose up at a little substance-over-style street food?

Vada pav with homemade bread roll and chutney.

About the dish

This dish is a common street food in India. It goes by a number of names, but the most common is the Vada Pav. Vada refers to any of a variety of vegetable dumplings and Pav to the bread roll that holds them. They are in essense a very tasty, kinda sexy, super-carby Indian sandwich. What’s not to love?

Another take on the dumpling is named the Masala Vadai. A Masala Vadai is another spiced Indian dumpling, this time made with pulses like lentils or chickpeas. Vada Pavs are occasionally made using Masala Vadai, but it isn’t the usual way of doing things. It is what we’re going to do today.

In either case, the bread roll is light and sweet. It is then lightly toasted and topped with two chutneys, one wet and the other dry. The bread brings an obvious breadiness. The Masala Vadai a beautiful spiciness. And the chutneys bring a tartness and a crunch that just finish everything off wonderfully.

About this recipe

As I mentioned above, this dish takes the best of the Vada Pav and the Masala Vada and puts them together. Before we begin properly, I’d just like to say that for another take on Indian vegetarian food, this chickpea dal is a really great place to start.

We’re going to bake some simple, homemade bread rolls and toast them so they’re crisp and crunchy and delicious. We’re also going to make a thick, tasty dal with all kinds of space and flavour. Then we’re going to reduce it, cool it and turn it into wonderful dumplings, perfect for this meal.

Just as important as the bread and the dumpling are the two chutneys that give the meal its flavour. We’re going to make two very delicious chutneys that both taste incredible. First, we’re going to make a dry chutney with almonds and sumac. Then we’re going to make a not-so-dry one with coriander, garlic and lime juice.

Before we begin, if you’re looking for other sandwich ideas, check out the following links. They’re especially useful if you’re looking for something a little more traditionally English! Two very recent sandwiches I’ve put together are those wonderful roast beef sandwich and this lovely chicken salad sandwich.

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Subscribe to my newsletter now for a free guide to cooking curries! AND I’ll send you weekly tricks, tips and updates that will help you elevate your cooking to the next level!

Vada pav with homemade bread roll and chutney.

Indian Sandwich Recipe – The Tastiest Masala Vada Pav

Ed Chef
This recipe takes the infamous Indian street meal, the tasty, crispy vada pav sandwich, and tweaks it ever-so-slightly. In place of the usual potato dumpling inside, we're going to make a beautiful spiced dal with chickpeas and lentils.
Course Breakfast, Lunch, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Servings 1


  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • 22cm- 25cm Circular Cake Mould – or a baking tray of roughly equal size


Homemade Bread Rolls

  • 500 g Strong Flour
  • 300 g Milk and extra for brushing
  • 2 tsp Caster Sugar
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 7 g Yeast
  • Oil to line the bowl

Masala Vadai

  • 1/2 can Chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup Lentils mung or red
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Chilli optional
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 handful Fresh Coriander
  • Cornflour

Coriander Chutney

  • 1 1/2 cup Fresh Coriander
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tsp Ginger Paste
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 Fresh Chilli red or green (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Lime Juice to taste
  • 25-50 ml Oil to taste

Dry Chutney

  • 1/2 cup Almonds
  • 1 tbsp Dessicated Coconut
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Sumac or tamarind
  • 1 tsp Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Chili optional
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Lemon Juice

Indian Sandwich

  • Butter


Homemade Bread Rolls

  • Sift 500g strong flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast, sugar and salt.
  • Combine the dough thoroughly and knead well on a work surface, dusted with flour if necessary. Knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is springy and elastic.
  • Wipe out the bowl and pat dry, then brush with oil.
  • Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a wet cloth. Leave it in a warm place and allow it to rise for an hour to an hour and a half.
  • Once the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and press down a little to collapse, then cut into 8 equal pieces.
  • Roll each of those pieces into a tight ball, then tighten and shape each ball even further. You essentially want to tighten each one by rolling it into itself more and more, until it is taut and springy. Space the rolls evenly around the mould or tray, including one in the middle.
  • Pre-heat an oven to 180c and cover the mould, allowing the rolls to prove for 30 – 60 minutes while the oven reaches temperature.
  • Brush the rolls with milk or egg and place into the oven for 20 minutes. Then increase the temperature to 220c and bake for a further 10 – 15.

Dry Chutney

  • In an oiled pan on medium heat, temper 1/2 tsp mustard seeds for about a minute.
  • Add 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1tsp sumac, 1 tsp coriander powder and 1/2 tsp chilli to the pan, then cook for a further minute.
  • Add the spices and the oil to a blender and mix with 1/2 cup almonds and 1 tbsp dessicated coconut. Season with salt.
  • Blend together thoroughly, adding more oil if required. You want the mix quite dry.

Coriander Chutney

  • Temper 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and 1/2 tsp mustard seeds in an oiled pan on medium heat.
  • Add the spices and the oil to a blender with a cup and a half of fresh coriander, stalks included.
  • Add 2 cloves peeled garlic and 1 tsp ginger paste.
  • Add a good hit of lime juice. Start with a tablespoonful and add more if required. You want a strong lime flavour.
  • Add a good glug of oil. Enough that when you blend everything together, you'll have a liquid rather than a paste.
  • (Optional) Add the chilli.
  • Blend everything together and adjust if required. Add a little salt or adjust the amount of oil and lime juice.

Masala Vadai

  • 1/2 can chickpeas, 1/2 cup lentils, 1/2 tsp onion seeds, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp ginger powder, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp chilli, 2 cloves garlic, coriander leaves
  • Drain half a can of chickpeas and set aside.
  • In an oiled pan on medium heat, fry 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp onion seeds and 1 tsp cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add 1tsp ginger powder, 1tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder (if desired) and cook for another minute.
  • Finally, add 2 peeled and finely diced cloves of garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add 1/2 cup lentils and the chickpeas stir everything together, seasoning with salt before quickly submerging everything in water. You don't want to use too much water here. Just enough to submerge the solids..
  • Simmer the mixture for at least half an hour. You basically want the water to have reduced to near nothing.
  • Add two thirds of the mixture to a blender and mix together, seasoning with salt and a little lemon juice.
  • Add the other third back in and combine with a fork, then move to the fridge to cool.
  • Once the mixture is completely cool, roll it into balls the size of a golfball. There will be enough to make roughly 4 large dumplings.
  • Roll each one in cornflour and drop into a deep fat fryer on 180c for just a few minutes, until the outside crisps up. Keep an eye on them. They are quite fragile and can disintegrate in the fryer. You can add flour to the mixture to avoid that, but I prefer not to.

Build the Indian Sandwich

  • Slice one of your buns in half and butter each side.
  • Place them butter side down in a hot pan to cook until the surface is browned.
  • Re-butter each side and add a generous spoonful of the dry chutney to the bottom layer
  • Place the masala vadai on top of the dry chutney layer and spoon over a generous dollop of the coriander chutney.
  • Place the top of the bun on top and enjoy!
Keyword Homemade Bread Roll, Indian Sandwich, Masala Vadai, Vada Pav

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