LONG POST AHEAD! READ IF YOU HAVE TIME!
So this Diwali was our first in Tasmania..and I would be lying if I say, I missed home. To be honest, I didn’t! Of course, I missed the get together in our building back in Bombay and the kids having fun..but was I homesick? Nah!
This Diwali, I did something which I wanted to do for a long long time. Something like a bucket list…To be honest, I have a very short bucket list.
- Lie on a hammock for hours together, reading an awesome book and munch on chips and drink mango juice..
- ….I don’t know!
Well, you do get the drift! But one of the things, I always wanted to do was, sell food in a funfair or a market stall!
So last Sunday (October 23rd) on of RD’s friends told him about the Hobart Twilight Market. They were celebrating Diwali this year, perhaps, for the first time, and he said, there were very few Indian food item stalls and would anyone,RD, knows be interested in setting up an stall there?
RD and he started talking and RD was saying how I try and feed the family with Indian street food and he mentioned that ONE TIME in my life, I had made Vada Pav, some 10 days ago. Again, RD being RD, forgot to mention a critical point. ONE TIME! I mean, I have never made Vada Pav before this, ever in my life, but since R was asking for it and giving me these, senti looks, I made it for her once!
So the friend in question said, hey, I can get a marquee and you guys can set up a stall. RD was like yaa yaa..a Vada Pav stall…hey RM, he calls me, come lets set up a stall…I was like WHAT? He and his friend started talking about samosas, and dhoklas, and theplas, and idlis..and I looked at them wondering if they had gone mad.
Then, one another gentleman present there, started telling about how setting up a stall needs council permission and it is not as easy as one thinks it is..yaada yaada…
I breathe a sigh of relief, thinking RD would give up…but RD being RD, the never-give-up-till-I-cant-breathe types, said, ah well, whats needed for council permission and the conversation continued..
I just walked out and pretended, that I was deaf…
Until, next morning, Monday, RD, apparently set off to get the council permission. He filled the zillion forms and gave his credit card numbers and coordinated with this friend and the gentleman. And I was not even aware of it!
Tuesday morning, he forwarded me a mail, that said, we were too late in applying and perhaps, we would get a chance, only if someone else backed out. Phew! I thought and went on making my pakodams (which were a flop!) and chivda!
Wednesday morning, RD messaged me saying, we got a stall, yay! I was like WHAT WHAT WHAT! And then started the saga! We were sharing a stall with that gentleman, who was planning to order butter chicken and rice from a restaurant and sell it at the market. RD’s friend suggested 200 vadas. I was like are you mad! I will make 60. RD was like come on RM, lets make 100. I was like what if no one buys. RD was like don’t worry, I will eat them! I was like no, you can’t. He is like it WILL sell, lady..just make them!
I told my mom about it and she was like ‘hey go for it, I used to do 300 idlis every year for the school fun fair and it is really not tough!’ Trust moms to give you confidence 🙂 My MIL was a bit worried but she was like take it one vada at a time and you will make it in no time!
I was making EVERYTHING at home. Three chutneys, vadas and of course, getting paav from the local grocery store. I did not even have the ingredients. Then I contacted, my answer to all solutions, Smita. I was like, help help, is this enough, what amount, how much, can I do, what chutney, what aloo, what besan?
I started panicking. My biggest problem was lack of huge vessels. Anyways, Smita, being Smita, was like a rock. She gave me precise instructions, made me write a checklist of stuff I would need, gave me proportions after talking to expert vada pav makers in her office and calmed me down.
I first made the chutneys. Three types. The mint coriander green chutney, the dates tamarind chutney, and the red garlic special vada pav chutney. I went shopping for coriander and mint on Wednesday after dropping R to school. R2 was having fun while I spent the day getting super worked up. That day evening, we made a trip to the Indian store on the other side of town to buy besan, etc, etc. Then I realised, I could not really fry the vadas and go, since they needed to be hot. RD said, let us buy an electric fryer. What on earth is that, I asked him. He took me to a store and just picked up one. I mean, just like that. I was like but it is so expensive. He pretended not to hear me, and just picked it up!
On Thursday morning, I got up at 5 and started to boil the potatoes. I had to do 5 kg potatoes in 4 lots since I did not have a big cooker. So three lots went into the rice cooker while one went into a small saucepan type cooker. Then later in the day, I met my friend, L, who is perhaps one of the best persons on earth. She is from Melbourne and her oldest son studies with R. So I ended up babbling to her on how tensed I was and what am I going to do and what was I thinking, and how I think RD should be actually crazy to even propose this. She said, I will come and help. I was like no what, no no..your inlaws are visiting you, how can you? Her MIL immediately said, take her, I need some time away from her 😉 I was like..errr…errr..she just overruled me and said, I am coming.
I was like Errr…L..can you take some chutney home? to keep in your fridge? She said she would swing by and pick up my three chutneys..yes she is so wonderful that she came and picked it up! I did not even have to drop it at her place!
On Thursday afternoon, I started making the masala for the vada. Since I did not have a big kadai and only one of my kadais work on the induction stove, I made it in 7 lots. A little potato, little jeera, little haldi..oh well, you get the drift na! I then mixed all of it in the big pan of my rice cooker and made vadas, after picking up R from school. And then I got 91! It was soooo frustrating! I mean just 9 short of 100! Smita told me not to panic and suggested, may be I just sell 91. But RD was like hey I can get a kilo of potatoes when I come home! I was like okayyyyy..so he came home on Thursday evening and I made one more batch, and got 111 vadas. I was happy with the taste. R tasted it and said, yummmyyy Amma!
And then on Friday morning, I got up at 4. Did a small prayer (yaa, I was so super tensed!) and then started making the vadas. As soon as I put the vadas, in the electric fryer, it just burst open. I got so super tensed. I tried three more and they would just not come okay. They looked diseased to be honest! I took a deep breath and then put oil in my reliable kadai (I love you Amma for giving it to me!) and then started frying the vadas. The plan was to just fry them for 10 seconds to give them shape so that it was easy to carry to the market and then deep fry it just before serving! So, I did just that. Made 108 of them! and then let them cool down and put them in a big dabba!
RD woke the girls and gave them milk and got them ready. I was in a zombie state. I did not know what I was doing or talking or babbling. The girls and RD realised it was pretty useless to interact with me. After about 1/2 hour when RD came back after buying fresh paavs, I opened the dabba and saw that it was full of water!!! The vadas had sweated. Oh my God, crisis I said and started crying almost..RD was like a rock and kept saying it is okay RM, nothing has happened..just take it one at a time. I was like what do you know, you didnt do anything (That was wrong really, he had done a LOT!) and blah blah! He just kept saying okay okay to my nonsensical screaming, taking out one vada at a time! And he salvaged all of it…he then ate one of it raw to prove to me that it still tasted yum!
And then we packed up. I was supposed to pick up L and reach the venue by 2.30 while RD would come later with the girls, since children are not allowed in the vicinity of the fire, etc. So I picked up L, she was superb in calming me down and helped me reach the venue and park the car. We figured out where our stall was, only to realise that the guys who were supposed to share the stall with us had not yet arrived. We just sat there, and waited. I was getting nervous, L was enjoying the weather. And then they did come, but without the Marquee. And we could not do ANYTHING till the Marquee came.
Then at 3.30 (the market starts at 4!!!!) the marquee came, but only the legs. Apparently the guy who had packed forgot the canopy! I was so tensed and nervous that I started messaging RD and giving him gaalis for the stupid ideas, etc etc..he was like calm down. L was like it is okay, look at the weather and enjoy yourself..and all that..nothing really worked…Exactly at 4, L’s husband, S arrived with their three kids and his parents..and while the market had started, we were still sitting there with a half built marquee. Finally at 4.25, the canopy arrived. It was set up and then there was the issue of the power connection. At this time, my brains had stopped working, but L and S were like these angels who took things in their hands. Seeing that I was falling short of a table, S went and got a table from our car. L, in the meantime, started sticking all the signs. S then somehow, managed to get the power connection working and poured in oil in my fryer and got it working. L gave me my apron and asked me to put on the gloves. I was still in a daze. But she got me working and then switched on her charm. By 4.50 we were ready to sell!
I swear, I swear, and I swear, I have NEVER EVER seen someone who can be so friendly and wonderful to random people. She was inviting, cajoling talking to people, asking them to try this new street food which her beautiful friend (that is me!) had made with her own hands…we had put up signs like home made, bombay burger, I love vadapav (all hand decorated by L’s three kids and R). She kept going on and on. She was like this magnet attracting people all the while. At the same time she was helping me spread the chutneys and fry the vadas and serve people. S was around all the time, helping us cut the paavs, checking if my electric fryer was working, helping us tie the marquee and generally asking me if I was okay and needed help! I swear, I wouldnt have done this without both of them. Since S’s parents were around, they took care of S and L’s kids. RD came with R and R2 and then he helped out a bit, but could not do much since kids were not allowed inside. S said, he would take care of our kids and then RD helped out a bit too.
The good part about having L was that she was Australia and she gave a kind of stamp of approval to the other Australians to taste something new. The Indians of course came by the dozen, since Vada Pav is something really not easily available in Tasmania. L just kept marketing everything beautifully. She was like this person with 20 hands, going here and there, helping, smiling, taking money, keeping track of everything. I had so many repeat customers. People who took it hesitantly and then came back saying it was yum. One lady came back 3 times! one guy came once and ate himself and came back with an order of 4 for his family!
I was just frying the vadas and serving like a machine. Till I was down to 2 vadas. And I had promised 1 to L and one to the gentleman who was serving butter chicken in our stall. One guy came with an order of four. Sorry I said. No said L, give it to him, I will come and eat later at your place! I sold out. Yes, sold out!!!! Sold out 106 vadas…People have instagrammed it four or five times as per L. And I was left with just 5-6 spoons of each of the chutneys. I had a guy from Bombay who took three of it and told me it was very authentic..I had a little girl come up and tell me, she loved it!
I was over the moon! I can not just believe that I made and sold 106 vada pavs!!! For me, it is a great achievement. For someone, who is a very reluctant cook, I did everything from scratch, despite the lack of necessary equipment and actually managed to pull it off! I am so super lucky to have friends who helped out and who stood by me.
If I could do this, it is all thanks to RD, L, S, Smita and the friend of ours who actually suggested it on Sunday. If someone told me that I could pull off selling vada pavs in a stall in 5 days time, I would laugh at them! But I actually did it and for me it is a great achievement!
Of course, for folks who do this day in and day out, it is just another day in their lives and I really admire them, but for me, it is like really, one thing off my bucket list!