Pav Bhaji or Pao Bhaji (Pav: a kind of soft, fluffy bread; Bhaji: a tomato based curry made from mixed veggies and a special blend of spices), is the “quintessential” snack food that originated from the bustling streets of Mumbai. Here in Bengaluru, Pav Bhaji is equally famous, and many enjoy it as an evening snack, or meal. Typically made with potatoes and peas as the main veggies, and tons of butter to enhance its taste, this dish is very versatile and each one has their own take on it. Today’s recipe features a Mixed Vegetable Bhaji served with Whole Wheat Pav- a healthier and nutritious take on the conventional dish.
Pav Bhaji always took me back to my childhood every single time I relished it. One of the fond memories has always been visiting Shanti Sagar hotel (which, to this date, I have still been doing) atleast once a week for North Indian Food. The first thing on the mind is always Pav Bhaji (with extra Pav, of course :P), and I always loved watching the guy make it in the huge tava right outside the restaurant: He would start off with a blob of butter. Next goes in some onions, then some boiled potatoes and peas which he mashes together with a metal masher. He then slowly adds his ready-made masala paste along with some chopped tomatoes. He would add water little by little, and continue to mash the whole mixture down until it turned into a beautifully orange, smooth Bhaji. Then, he would create a gap at the centre, add extra butter and toast the Pav right alongside the Bhaji. Oh, Yum!
I used Whole Wheat Pav that I made at home for this recipe. Wheat is said to have complex carbs and fibre, that will keep you full for a long time. You could also buy ready-made Pav from the grocery store. Also, you could always substitute this with Whole Wheat Toast; this will also be light on the stomach. The mixed veggies in the recipe are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, and easily digestible. It is also a nice way of getting all veggies into one dish, making it an overall ideal meal for breakfast or snack, and a great option for a lazy Sunday brunch.
The key to making a good Pav Bhaji lies in the amount of butter used- the more, the merrier. The Pav is usually dunked in loads of butter and this, when eaten with the hot and spicy Bhaji will probably make you forget all your worries atleast for a bit! I made the Bhaji slightly chunky-style, so that I could feel the bite of every vegetable. Also, I have not used any food colour. Instead, I used beetroot and some Kashmiri red chilli powder, which have that inherent red colour. Together, they five the Bhaji a wonderful, reddish orange colour. Now, let’s get onto the recipe!
- Pav/Dinner Rolls- one pack/ 5 to 6
- Butter- to toast the pav
- Red Chilli powder+Pav Bhaji Masala- 1 tsp each, mixed and set aside
For the Bhaji
- Green Beans- 3 to 4
- Green Peas- 1/2 cup
- Beetroot- 1, medium-sized
- Cauliflower florets- 4 to 5
- Potato- 2, medium-sized
- Red Chilli Powder (Kashmiri variety)- 2 tsp
- Pav Bhaji Masala- 3 tsp
- Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
- Onions- 1 large, finely chopped
- Capsicum- 1 small, finely chopped
- Tomatoes- 5 to 6 large, finely chopped
- Ginger- 1/2 inch piece, finely chopped
- Garlic- 5 to 6 pods, finely chopped
- Green Chilli- 1 big, finely chopped
- Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
- Butter (Salted)- one stick (about 25g)
- Oil- 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Roughly chop potatoes, green peas, green beans, beetroot and cauliflower florets.
- Pressure cook these veggies for 2-3 whistles, or cook them until tender.
- After making sure the pressure has come down completely, drain the stock and keep aside.
- Mash them with a masher or the back of a ladle. Removing the skin of the potatoes is optional. I did just before mashing. Set aside.
- Heat a pan with some butter and oil.
- Add cumin seeds. The butter became quite frothy, hence not visible.
- Then, add your chopped ginger, garlic and green chilli. Sauté for a minute or two. Keep the flame in the medium setting.
- Add onions and capsicum (they almost take the same time to cook). Add a teaspoon of salt and sugar. Cook until half tender.
- Add your chopped tomatoes, followed by the spice powders: turmeric, red chilli and pav bhaji masala. Cover and cook until the tomatoes become mushy.
- Then, continue cooking the tomatoes uncovered, until you see oil separating from the gravy. At this point, add your mashed veggies along with the stock you set aside.
- Bring this to a boil. Add salt. Then, simmer and cook for another 6-7 minutes.
- Garnish with some fresh coriander leaves. At this point, you could also squeeze some lemon.
Toasting the Pav
- Start off by mixing one teaspoon each of pav bhaji masala and red chilli powder in a cup. Set Aside.
- Take some pav, and slit it horizontally into two pieces.
- Heat a tava with some butter. Make sure the flame is at its lowest.
- Sprinkle some of the mixed masala, and give it a stir. Then, quickly take your pav and rub it into the spiced butter, on both sides. Let them toast for a few seconds. Serve hot with the Bhaji, with freshly cut onions and a slice of lemon on the side! 🙂
TIPS & TWEAKS
- Go easy on the butter, as it really enhances the taste of this dish.
- Feel free to add any other veggies of your choice.
- Butter generally burns very quickly, so adding some oil along with the butter will keep it from smoking or burning. For the same reason, try and be as quick as possible when rubbing the pav over the butter.
- While you are toasting your pav, ensure you do so lightly, on a low flame, or else the pav will burn. Leaving it on for too long on the tava will also harden the bread. The pav needs to be as soft and buttery as possible.
- Be wary of the amount of salt you are adding, as we are already using salted butter.