UAE’s Hidden Gems: Indian sliders go hipster in 23 flavours

Top Stories

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Dubai - In 2015, Amol turned his favourite childhood snack into an F&B business in the UAE — going as far as serving it in nearly two dozen varieties.

By Zubina Ahmed and M. Sajjad

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Thu 29 Oct 2020, 7:29 PM

Heard of a little corner shop or a hole-in-the-wall eatery that’s rumoured to sell the best burger, or the best sandwich, or the best kebab? Or another ‘little-known place’ that ‘launches a thousand ships’? UAE’s Hidden Gems, our new weekly series, will feature one such place a week, every Thursday. In Episode 6, we visit the funky restaurant O’Pao to see for ourselves how Mumbai’s humble vada pao could be served in 23 different ways.

When it comes to the Mumbai’s iconic snack ‘vada pao’, natives of the Indian city hold very strong opinions. These bread buns filled with mashed potato croquettes have been called Bombay burger or the Indian version of sliders.

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

And among these buns’ biggest fans is Amol Dhote, the founder of O’Pao in Karama, Dubai. He has loved vada paos since he was a kid, he said. “My mother used to pack them daily for tiffin. To give it a twist, she filled them with kebabs or omelette instead of a regular vada.”

In 2015, Amol turned his favourite childhood snack into an F&B business in the UAE — going as far as serving it in nearly two dozen varieties.

Then, there we were, marvelling at how the humble pao could have 23 different versions. To sample their creative culinary creations, we went beyond the traditional potato pao. First up on the plate was the Butter Chicken Pao.

“This pao has the Delhi-style butter chicken with cream in it and then we top it up with some more cream and crispies,” said Amol.

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

The next one was the Mutton Khicha Pao. The shredded slow-cooked mutton in Indian spices is a delicious treat for all mutton lovers.

“We also have something which is called the Triple Schezwan Chicken Pao’, where we toss shredded chicken in our special home-made schezwan sauce, then add eggs and fried noodles while filling the pao,” said Amol.

If you are looking for something spicy and tangy, the Balchao Prawn Pao was a must try. A perfect Goan treat, this was stuffed with crispy prawns.

Vegetarians can also enjoy a wide range of buns — like the O’Paneer Bhurjee Pao, made from scrambled cottage-cheese; O’Maggi Pao, made from noodles cooked in schezwan sauce; and the O’Cheese Burst Vada Pao which had the spiced potato dumpling stuffed with mozzarella cheese and topped with melted cheddar cheese. The O’ Manchurian Pao has a Chinese twist.

O’paos are served with their logo embossed on every pao. It’s easy on the pocket, too, with the paos priced Dh5 to Dh20. Small groups can enjoy a casual diner vibe, with the eatery’s funky murals of Mumbai streets. Fresh, flavoursome, not too spicy and satisfying — an O’pao is happiness in a bun.

What is a vada pao?

Also spelt as vada pav, vada pao are bread buns stuffed with a spicy, mashed potato mix — which has been coated with a chickpea flour batter and then deep fried. These paos are an iconic street snack in the Indian city of Mumbai.

Three things you won’t find anywhere

>Vada paos in 23 flavours!

>A tasty snack for Dh5 to Dh20

>A meal at a diner with funky, hipster vibe

More news from