Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pav Bhaji

This is spicy potato based vegetable dish that you have with toasted pav/bread. Originated in Mumbai, this maharashtrian fast food is now famous throughout India.

Pav Bhaji comes under my comfort food category, all the carbs from the bread and the fat from the butter is nicely contrasted with the spiciness of the bhaji. In India the bread used is different, it is called Ladi Pav, it closely resembles dinner rolls. However, I chose to use the Hamburger buns. Recently on a trip to India to attend my uncle's wedding a pandit (male chef), who also happen to be catering for us, gave me this tip about pav bhaji. He told me to add a little dried mathi leaves to the bhaji, as this add to the flavor of the bhaji.

There are many methods of making pav bhaji but the one most coveted is the way the street vendors make it Mumbai. I was lucky to find this video on the web showing a street vendor at Juhu beach in Mumbai making Pav Bhaji. This recipe below is adapted based on this video clip. Thanks to for this clip.

This recipe make a great tasting Pav Bhaji and you can adjust the spiciness according to your personal preference.

Pav Bhaji

serves 4


2 tbsp oil
1 capsicum, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp tomato, paste
4 large sized idaho / white potatoes, boiled and peeled
1/2 cup frozen green peas, defrosted
2 tbsp ginger - garlic paste
2 tsp cayenne powder ( less can be used depending upon your taste )
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 + 1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter plus additional for buttering the pav/ bread
2 tbsp + 1 tsp pav bhaji masala ( found at the indian grocery store)
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice and one lime cut into wedges.
2 tbsp kasturi methi / fenugreek leaves ( found at the indian grocery store)
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped finely
1/8 tsp asafoetida / hing powder
salt to taste
1 - 2 pkts hamburger buns


  1. Boil the potatoes, peel them and set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed, deep saucepan heat 2 tbsp of oil and to it add the chopped capsicum, saute for a minute and then add 1/2 cup of water to it. This is to cook the capsicum. Make sure that the heat is medium high and the pan sizzles when the water is added.
  3. To this now add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, mashed potatoes, green peas, 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, 1 tsp red chili powder and turmeric powder . Add 2 cups of water to this and let it cook down a little.
  4. Once the water reduces a bit and the veges are soften use a potato masher to mash all the ingredients into a homogeneous mass.
  5. Once it thickens, sprinkle pav bhaji masala, salt and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves. To this add 1/2 cup water and cook some more stirring and mashing it till the water evaporated and the oil separates from the vegetables.Let it simmer on low.
  6. In another small saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of butter, to it add the 2 whole chopped onions, the rest of the ginger-garlic paste, kasturi methi, 1 tsp red chili powder, 1 tsp pav bhaji masala, hing, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves and lemon juice. Mix it together and add it to the cooked vegetables. Now is the time to check seasonings and adjust accordingly. The bhaji is now done.
  7. For the non-spicy version - Smear a little butter on the burger buns and lightly toast it on a non-stick skillet on medium flame. Once the bread is browned turn it over and toast again. For the spicy version - mix some red chili powder and pav bhaji masala with softened butter and spread it on the buns , now toast this on a non-stick skillet till lightly browned.
Note that in the video they add red coloring to the bhaji, I have instead used the tomato paste to achieve similar results.

To serve

Put some bhaji on the plate, on it sprinkle some chopped onions, cilantro leaves, a pat or dollop of butter. Next to it place a wedge of lime and the hot toasted pav/buns. Serve and enjoy.

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