I run restaurants for a living and someone literally dragged me there to show some spaces. I thought Thane would be this backward sleepy-small town in Mumbai’s backyard. But it surprised me. I did end up opening a restaurant here and in the process discovered a lot more. The look and feel of Thane is not dissimilar to Mumbai. The same train system of Central Railways feeds in and out like other parts of Mumbai. And they have the same ‘building’ culture as Mumbai. Autoricksaw drivers who more or less quietly go where ever you want and billing through the meter and the same traffic jams. I love Thane because it’s also the home to Gajanan Vada Pav.
The Thane Vada Pav
One of the earlier pioneers of the Vada Pav concept was a place called Rajmata Vada Pav who started selling somewhere in the late sixties or early seventies. Rajmata now has many branches across Thane, but has lost some of their earlier sheen. Their claim to fame and reason for their meteoric rise was the Yellow Chutney they served alongwith their Vada Pav.
The Peeli or Yellow Chutney is perhaps distinct to Thane as I don’t think I’ve seen this anywhere else. It’s made using a combination of cooked Besan and sev with some chilly and minimal spices. Some just give this on it own alongwith the Vada Pav and some give a green chilly thetcha alongside
Gajanan Vada Pav
Gajanan started selling Vada Pav in Thane somewhere in the 80’s. A few years after Rajmata. Comparing the two, Gajanan does a slightly better Vada Pav. Their yellow chutney’s tastier and they stylishly throw in a dash of green chilly thetcha on top of the yellow chutney and their Pav’s also pretty decent. All-in-all, a very good Vada Pav.
More details about their outlet in Thane West.
And here’s a recipe for the Yellow Besan Chutney. This’s the closest recipe I could find. The street version of the Peeli Chutney’s made from a mix of sev and crumbs from frying Vada Pav and that’s what makes it so tasty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqlG12c3910
Happy hunting and Chowder-on!!