Pav-Bhaji, The OG Indian street food

Hi everyone!

Last night I was scrolling through my blog, just taking a note of what kind of posts I’ve been uploading and I realized that it’s been a while since I shared any new recipes here. As I was already struggling a bit to come up with a topic for this week’s blog post, I thought this was as good a time as any to share another one of my favorite foods from back home.

This time, I’d like to share one of the most famous and absolutely delicious street food from India called, Pav-Bhaji. It’s originally a ‘Maharashtrian‘ food that’s famous all over India. The dish consists of a spicy-thick curry (Bhaji) made out of lots of vegetables and a type of soft bread-rolls called ‘Pav’. Originally, pav-bhaji was a fast lunchtime option for textile mill-workers in Mumbai, but eventually, it became quite famous all around Maharashtra and then India. Nowadays it’s offered at restaurants as well as on the streets. In my completely biased opinion, the street version of Pav-bhaji is wayyyyy better than the restaurant’s lol! So yeah, without further ado, let’s get right into it…but before that, here’s a picture of the dish in all its glory haha! 😀

So before I start listing out the ingredients and steps, I just wanted to mention that this is an instant-pot/pressure-cooker version of Pav-bhaji, a recipe that I learned from my mom. (I’m using the term- mom’s recipe quite loosely here because I think it’s a very standard recipe a lot of the households from Gujarat follow.) On the streets, they usually make it on Tawa-a flat wok/griddle/frying pan. But, that requires a lot of time slow cooking the vegetables and really good skills (read: confidence) with fire/stove, none of which I possess 😥 . But that’s okay, having tried this recipe a few times before, I can attest to its deliciousness.

Also, as a side note, if you do not have a pressure cooker or an instant pot, you can also make this recipe in a regular pot. You’ll just need to shred the vegetables instead of chopping them into small pieces. This will make it easier to cook those vegetables in a reasonable time. Speaking of vegetables, one of the reasons why my mom and I both love this recipe so much is because of its diversity and the freedom to put in any vegetables you would like. So, if you’re looking to clean out your refrigerator this is the best recipe to help you with that. Now, here is the list of things you’ll need to make the bhaji (curry).

ingredients

  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 tomotaoes (medium-sized)
  • 1.5 cups cauliflower
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 2 onions (I would recommend red onions)
  • 1/2 beet (optional, this gives your curry that street-style red colour)
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1 or 2 green chillies (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 3 tbsp corriender
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • Other optional vegetables: Eggplants, Cabbage, french beans
  • ~ 2.5 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp red paprika powder
  • 3 tbsp butter (you can add more if you want to make it less spicy)
  • 4-6 cups of water (to get a gooey consistency, but not watery)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ~ 3 tsp Pav Bhaji Masala
  • salt to taste

So yeah, that’s pretty much everything you’ll need to make the bhaji. If you’re feeling overwhelmed looking at this big list, fret not! For most of the vegetables (other than onions and bell peppers), you only need to roughly chop them in bite-sized blocks. We’re going to be boiling them and mashing them into a pulp eventually anyways. I put one ingredient in bold letters because that’s honestly the most important one for this dish. This pav-bhaji masala is basically a ready-made blend of dried spices especially catered to this dish. From what I’ve seen, this spice blend is easily available in the international aisle of grocery stores like Walmart or Freshco, and if not, you can definitely find them at your local Indian/Asian grocery store. Here are the two brands that I’ve personally tried before and can vouch for.

But if you’re all out of luck and can’t find this spice blend then you can just make your own. I found this blog post that explains what you’ll need and how to make it in very easy steps. Hopefully, you won’t have to make your own blend.

recipe

  1. Start off with heating about 1 tbsp of oil in your pressure cooker/pot. Once the oil is heated, add in cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter. Now just as they start to splutter, add in 1 tsp of the ‘pav-bhaji masala’. This helps bringing out the flavour of all those dried spieces that are in that blend.
  2. Now, before the spices start to burn, add in your vegetables. At this point you should include your tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beet and peas. Also add in a little bit of salt. Give them a nice stir so that they’re well coated in that spice mix.
  3. Next, add in about 2 cups (~ 500 ml) of water and close the lid of your pressure cooker or instant pot. If you’re using a cooker-bring it to two whistles at high flame and then lower the flame to cook the vegetables a little bit more for couple of minutes. If it’s an instant pot, cook them at high pressure for about 6-7 minutes. AND, if you’re just using a regular pot, then wait for your vegetables to be about half-cooked in oil (salt with speed things up) and then add in your water and cook them until they’re about 80-90% cooked.
  4. Now moving onto the next part, take a frying pan/pot and add in about 1 tbsp of oil. The mvp here is the butter-about 3 tbsp. We’re just adding the oil first, so that the butter doesn’t burn.
  5. Now add in your finely chopped bell-peppers and onions and roast them on a high flame for about 2-3 minutes to sweat the onions. Here you can now start adding in your other spices and veggies- salt to taste, 2 more tsp of the Pav-bhaji masala, 1 tsp red paperika, green chillies, ginger-garlic paste and lots of corriender. Now roast everything for about another 2 minutes on a high flame.
  6. Once everything is well mixed, you can add in about a tsp of lemon juice here and a cup of water. (I also like to add some more lemon juice at the time of serving the dish).
  7. Now as that mix is slowly boiling, we can add in those boiled vegetables in it. Be careful to let out all the steam from the pressure cooker before opening the lid.
  8. Now let everything boil/cook at a high flame for about 3-4 minutes so that all the veggies are really well cooked. This step makes it easier for us to later mash the veggies into a gooey consistency with a masher.
  9. So that’s your next step. Mash all the vegetables with a potato masher so that there aren’t any big chunks of vegetables left inside. Here, after mashing if it looks too thick, you can add in a little bit of water. Basically, it should be of a consistency where you can dip your bread in it, and the bread will absorb the curry and all the flavour of it.
  10. Bring your mixture to one last boil and voila! There you have it, a street-style, utterly delicious bhaji! 😀
source

with this, you’re almost 95% done with the recipe. All that’s left is to prepare your bread roll. Any sort of bread-rolls that don’t have a sweetness to them would work well with this. To be honest, it doesn’t really have to be bread rolls. As you can see, when I made it last time, I didn’t have any proper pav so I used the plain sandwich bread that I toasted with the butter and it worked just fine. You can also eat it with flatbreads like naan or roti. I used to do that a lot with the leftovers the next day!

And lastly, you can make a vegan, gluten-free version of it by just switching normal butter with your choice of vegan butter and having it with a gluten-free bread of your choice. It may look like I’ve listed a lot of steps and there are a lot of ingredients involved, but trust me, this is much less complicated than it looks. Also, the complicated steps are just my inability to write like a professional food-blogger lol!

So I hope, you won’t let that stop you from trying this recipe at least once! I would love to hear your thoughts on how liked it 😀

Until next time!

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