Pav Bhaji is a classic fast food dish native to Maharashtra. This dish that originated in the 1850s as a fast lunchtime dish for textile mill workers in Mumbai is extremely popular all over India today. It is offered at outlets from simple roadside hand carts to formal restaurants in India and abroad. It is one of the most popular street foods in Mumbai.
It is loved by kids and adults alike. Even though it is said to be a snack, most people have it as a meal. In our house, we always make it in large quantities and love to eat it for more than one meal!!! It is an ideal way to get your kids to eat vegetables without any resistance.
It is a quick meal since large potions of the bhaji can be made in advance and simply reheated with a few spices before serving. You just need to wait till the pav is toasted to perfection with oodles of butter! hmm, top with the raw onions and tomatoes, squeeze a tad of lemon atop the bhaji, and dive in!
Pav Bhaji also has many variations in ingredients and garnishes, but is essentially a spiced mixture of mashed vegetables in a thick gravy cooked served hot with a buttered soft white bread roll. Variations on Pav Bhaji include:
- Cheese Pav Bhaji, with cheese on top of the bhaji
- Fried Pav Bhaji, with the pav tossed in the bhaji
- Paneer Pav Bhaji, with paneer (cottage cheese) in the bhaji
- Mushroom Pav Bhaji, with mushrooms in the bhaji
- Khada Pav Bhaji, with vegetable chunks in the bhaji
- Jain Pav Bhaji, without cauliflower, onions and garlic and with plaintains (raw bananas) instead of potatoes
- Kolhapuri Pav Bhaji, using a spice mix common in Kohlapur
- Kathyawadi Pav Bhaji with buttermilk, a variant from the Kathiyawad peninsula
- Dryfruit Pav Bhaji with dried fruits in or on the bhaji
Below is a recipe of the basic pav bhaji.
- Potatoes - 4 medium (chopped)
- Cauliflower - 1 medium (chopped)
- Green Peas - 1 cup
- Onions - 2 large (chopped)
- Tomatoes - 3-4 large
- Capsicum ( Shimla Mirch / Green Bell Peppers ) - 2 medium (chopped)
- Cabbage - 1 medium (chopped)
- Baigan ( Eggplant / Brinjal ) - 1 big round (chopped)
- Green Chillis - 2-3
- Ginger - 25 gms
- Turmeric Powder ( Haldi ) - 1/2 tsp
- Red chilli powder ( Lal Mirch ) - 1/2 tsp
- Cumin Seeds ( Jeera ) - 1/2 tsp
- Pav Bhaji Masala - 3-4 tbsp
- Garam Masala - 1 tsp
- Salt - As per taste
- Coriander ( Dhaniya ) Powder - 2 tsp
- Butter - 100 gms
- Pavs ( Buns ) - 12
- Lemons - 3-4 (cut into halves)
Preparing the Bhaji:
1. Rinse all the vegetables well. Boil all the vegetables except onions, tomatoes and capsicum in a pressure cooker with salt, turmeric coriander powder and about 1 cup water. Do not add too much water since all the vegetables have substantial water content of their own.
2. Blend the tomatoes along with the green chillis and ginge in a blender and keep aside.
3. Ina kadhai, add butter. When the butter melts, add cumin seeds. When they splutter, add the chopped onions.
4. Saute the onions till they become translucent.
5.Now add the chopped capsicum and sauté for 5 minutes. You don't need to make the capsicum very soft. A little crunch is alright.
6. Add the tomato-chilli-ginger paste and sauté or 5 mins.
7. Add the pav bhaji masala and the red chilli powder. Mix well and sauté till the moisture evaporates and the butter starts releasing the side.
8. The vegetables ill be steamed by now. Mash them lightly with a potato masher. Just mash lightly, don't make a puree.
9. Combine the mashed vegetables well with the masala. Add some water if needed (as per your preference) and combine everything well.
10. With a potato masher, mash the veggies directly in the kadhai.
11. Add 2-3 tsp butter and keep on stirring occasionally and let the bhaji simmer for 12 to 15 minutes on a low flame. If the bhaji becomes dry and then add some more water. The consistency is neither very thick nor thin.
12. When done, garnish with dollops of butter, garam masala powder and chopped coriander leaves. Serve with chopped onions and lemon pieces. The lemon juice has to be squeezed on the bhaji and topped with chopped onions.
13. Serve with buttered pavs.
To make the buttered pavs:
1. Slice the pavs into 2 pieces each.
2. On a flat pan/ tawa, heat some butter.
3. When the butter melts, keep the pavs on the melted butter so that it absorbs the butter and fry for a minute.
4. If you want to make the pav crisp, fry for a few more minutes. Serve the pavs hot with the bhaji.
1. If you don’t want to sauté the vegetables in butter, you can use oil or ghee instead.
2. Garnish with a little chaat masala or black chaat masala which is a secret ingredient that the Delhi roadside vendors add.
3. You can also sprinkle some pav bhaji masala on the tava to spice up the pavs a bit.
4. In case you don’t have lemons, add amchoor (dry mango powder) to the bhaji while cooking the bhaji.
5. The more the butter, the better the pav bhaji tastes.
6. You can also steam the capsicum along with other vegetables instead of sautéing but the bhaji tastes much better with sautéed capsicum.
7. You can choose not to add the brinjal in case you don’t like it, but it gives the bhaji a good consistency.
8. You can also add carrots and french beans to the bhaji.
9. In case pavs are unavailable, you can use bread instead.