Pav Bhaji. Smashed vegetables in a delicious tomato-based gravy served with hot buttered pav or toasted dinner rolls. One of the most popular regional, street food across India.
The base of the dish lies in the bhaji, which is essentially a mix of vegetables that are simmered in a spicy onion and tomato masala and lots of butter. Warm, toasted, and buttered pav or dinner rolls are served on the side along with chopped onions and lemon wedges.
Although this dish has origins in the state of Maharastra and the Pav Bhaji from the streets of Mumbai is always the best, you will now find pav bhaji across the streets of India and in almost every other multi-cuisine restaurant.
The essence of Pav Bhaji is of course the masala which is easily available at any store. Many people make their own masala from scratch at home as well.
The best part of this dish is that you can use any vegetables of your choice; potatoes are of course the base here and you can pick all the rest.
Prior to the United States, we lived in Singapore for nearly a decade. I made very good friends with a Gujarati girl at my workplace within few days of joining the organization.
To find an Indian girl nearly your age in a foreign country was bliss! The best part of course was that we loved both eating and exploring. What was even better was that she made us her special chaats and Mumbai special Pav Bhaji. She, of course, was a pro in making this dish.
I remember the first time we ate at her place, she had made us some lovely chaat, tawa pulao, and one of the most delicious pav bhaji I have ever eaten. I of course coaxed her to share her tips and tricks, and she had to give in. There is a secret step here, where she makes a hot garlic-chili paste which is everything in the bhaji. It yields that gorgeous color and of course the end result is delicious.
I have been making this version along with a few personal deviations for a while now and it is a family favorite.
I have used a small beetroot here for that beautiful color; you may choose to use it or not. Also, my personal favorite is the Everest brand; you may use whatever is available.
Do let me know if you try and make this for your next meal. We love Pav Bhaji for our our weekend brunches. Leftover bhaji tastes delicious the next day as well.
- 4 medium potatoes
- 1 small cauliflower
- 1 small beetroot
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 red onions
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 cup green peas
- 1/2 green bell pepper deseeded and chopped
- 1 green chilli
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 dry whole red chilies
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp kashmiri red chili powder
- 4 tbsp Pav Bhaji masala powder
- 2 tbsp oil
- 4 tbsp salted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
- In 1/2 cup warm water, soak the garlic cloves, and 2 dry whole red chilies for an hour. Thereafter, make a coarse paste in the grinder and keep it aside. Use 1 tbsp of the soaking water to grind.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Peel the beetroot and cut into quarters.
- Peel and grate the carrots.
- In a pressure cooker, add all these vegetables, green peas, 4 cups water, and pressure cook on a medium flame for about 8 whistles. Remove after the pressure releases and smash them a bit with a potato masher or the back of a spatula.
- In the meantime, heat a heavy-bottomed pan, add 2 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter. Add finely chopped onions and saute on medium flame.
- Add the garlic-chili paste, 1 chopped green chili, and saute for another 5 minutes till the rawness goes away.
- Now add 1 tbsp pav bhaji masala and kashmiri red chili powder and mix well. Add finely chopped tomatoes and cook this mixture for another 10 minutes after which add another tablespoon of pav bhaji masala and the chopped green capsicum and cook further.
- Now add the boiled and mashed vegetables and give this mixture a very good mix. Let this mixture simmer and add another 2 tablespoons of the pav bhaji masala along with 2 tbsp of butter. Mix and keep stirring while this mixture simmers for another 15 minutes. Add salt to taste while this mixture cooks.
- Check for seasoning and feel free to add more chili/ pav bhaji masala if you want the bhaji spicier.
- Add chopped fresh coriander leaves and some fresh lemon juice,
- Serve hot with toasted and butter pav/ dinner rolls along with a side of chopped onions and a lemon wedge.