Pav Bhaji is perhaps one of the most beloved street foods of India, that has its origin in the vibrant city of Mumbai!
Mumbai has pav-bhaji stalls at every other corner and no one does a better pav bhaji than the vendors of this city. I remember having the best pav-bhaji at iconic Juhu beach many years ago. It was raining and we enjoyed hot plates of pav-bhaji, sitting in our car by the beach, with doors open. It was so delicious that the taste still lingers on my tongue.
It may be defined as a delicious and wholesome mix of assorted veggies like potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, green peas and capsicum along with plenty of butter, served with toasted Indian bread bun called pav.
I make pav bhaji at home atleast once in two weeks as it is a perfect meal option that is both nutritious and yet, delicious. For one of those weekday evenings when you don’t feel like having a routine boring, meal of dal and sabzi, pav bhaji is the perfect solution.
You can make bhaji with any veggie combination but I usually use cauliflower, cabbage peas, capsicum, potatoes and a single carrot in my bhaji. French beans too go well in this dish. Two ingredients without which I can’t think of making pav-bhaji would easily be Butter and lots of tomatoes. They strictly form the base of a good bhaji.
Also, usually bhaji is made of steamed vegetables so that they blend well into the mix and form a smooth, uniform gravy, but I like my bhaji to have distinct,crunchy vegetables and thus, I only steam peas and boil potatoes. If you prefer a smoother bhaji, go ahead and steam all your veggies. It will be equally awesome!
So, give this recipe a go and enjoy!
1 onion chopped
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 capsicum chopped
1/2 cup steamed peas
1 chopped carrot
2 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 green chilies slit
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
2 boiled potatoes, roughly chopped
4 medium tomatoes, blended
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tablespoon pav-bhaji masala
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Fresh and chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Ready-made bread buns or pav
-Blend the tomatoes, steam the peas and boil the potatoes. Keep ready.
-In a deep, heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and half of the butter.
-When the oil gets hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds. Fry for a few seconds.
-Add the slit green chillies and chopped onions. Cook till the onions gets translucent.
-Add the turmeric powder and red chilly powder and fry a few seconds.
-Put in the ginger garlic paste and fry the mixture till the raw aroma of ginger garlic paste goes away.
-Throw in your chopped carrot, cauliflower, cabbage and capsicum. Add half a cup of water and mix well. Cover and cook well on medium-high flame till the vegetables seem half cooked and most of the water evaporates.
-Next, add the blended tomatoes and the salt. Again cover and cook n medium low flame till the tomatoes seem cooked.
-In a bowl, put in your pav bhaji masala and add about 2-3 tablespoons water in it. Mix with a spoon until the masala mixes well with the water and add this mixture to your bhaji. This way is better than adding the masala directly to the bhaji in a powder form, as it ensures instant smooth mixing and also prevents from it getting that grainy texture that occurs when masala doesn’t mix uniformly with the gravy sometimes.
-Bhaji is always-semi liquid and not dry. So add about half cup of hot water in your bhaji and mix well. Also add your steamed peas and boiled potatoes in the bhaji at this point. The resulting consistency of your bhaji should be thick and stew like.
-Now comes the important part. Take a potato masher and mash all the vegetables well, while they are still simmering away on stove. This is the most important part and is what makes your dish into a bhaji and not just a mixed vegetable stew or sabzi. Mash all the vegetables well till they are blended with each other. It is upto you, how much you want your vegetables to be visible and distinct in the bhaji. On the scale of being coarsely mashed to an absolute smooth paste, it can be anything you want. I usually do not mash it till it becomes absolutely smooth, but leave it when everything is mashed well but still I can make out which veggie is which.
-Cook for around ten minutes more and adjust the salt and the pav-bhaji masala quantity by taking a quick taste.
-If your bhaji starts looking dry, keep adding little by little hot water to it to maintain a semi-liquid but thick consistency. It should not be dry!
-Switching off the gas, squeeze in your lemon juice, lots of coriander and a large dollop of the remaining butter.Cover and let it sit for about ten minutes.
-Mix everything well and your bhaji is now ready to be served.
-Take a frying pan and once it is hot, put some butter on it.
-As the butter starts sizzling, put the 2 bun halves on the pan and roast them till one side is roasted and light brown. Flip the buns and again roast till their other side is nicely roasted. Serve immediately with piping hot bhaji and salad made of chopped and mixed cucumber, onions and tomatoes. Enjoy!
-Do not add more than one small carrot in your bhaji or it will turn sweet on the whole!
-Make sure that you use a good quantity of tomatoes in proportion to your total quantity of vegetables. Bhaji is nothing if it’s not red and tangy!
-You can use any vegetables in your bhaji but do not skip using boiled potatoes. They form a good base of bhaji.
-As there are so many vegetables used in making this dish, the resulting bhaji is always large in quantity. Pav-bhaji makes for a superb breakfast/brunch option for the following day. We always have remaining pav-bhaji for breakfast the next day.