A high point of a road trip to Mysuru is a slight deviation to Melkote to sample their divine butter and delicious puliyogare and a must-have Maddur vada with a piping hot cup of filter coffee at Maddur. Maddur, formerly known as Marudhur during the glorious reign of the Hoysala kings lies on the banks of the Shimsha River.
In the early 1900s, trains headed to Bangalore used to stop at Maddur station for about 20 to 30 minutes. Vendors would try and tempt the fatigued passengers with hot idlis, vadas, pakoras and other light snacks. A hard-working and resourceful entrepreneur Ramachandra Budhya started the Vegetarian Tiffin Room (VRR) in Maddur Railway Station in 1917 selling pakoras and idlis to the passing passengers.
One time (locals say it was April 1917), Ramachandra Budhya was caught up with serving his customers his simple but tasty idlis and pakoras. The next train was to arrive ahead of schedule and he had not fried his batch of pakoras for the incoming passengers.
In an Eureka moment, he threw in a few more ingredients to the already prepared pakora mixture and hurriedly flattened small balls of the mixture between his palms and turned them into flat disc-like vadas and deep-fried them.
The aroma of the hot vadas wafted the air and the hungry passengers took one look at it and relished this mouth-watering snack. On asked what it was called, Ramachandra Budhya replied that it was Maddur vada!
This ingenious snack, termed often as the ‘accidental snack’ became popular with the locals and passengers. Budhya ran Vegetarian Tiffin Room (VRR) till 1937 after which his family took over. This iconic dish of Karnataka was then handed over to the family of HD Hebbar who made some modifications to the original recipe enhancing its taste and quality.
Slowly, this heavenly snack made its way outside of Maddur and is now available across Karnataka. What makes the Maddur vada so unique is the quality of ingredients used – semolina, maida, rice flour, curry leaves, ghee, butter, coconut, spices and excellent onions sourced from Nashik and Pune. Sometimes, cashews, white sesame and khus khus are also added as a variation.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)