Pav bhaji is yet another famous street food from Mumbai. Though this dish is omnipresent in other parts of India as well, Mumbai and Pune are the most famous spots to relish this concoction of many vegetables, a heavenly combination of potato based curry, combined with vegetables like cauliflower, peas, capsicum, onions, tomatoes with liberal use of flavor enhancers like Garam masala and Pav bhaji masala (powders) and sinful butter. A morsel of this spicy tangy curry with soft buns (called Pao in local language), with some crunchy diced onions, and dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice, is such a bliss.

Making a restaurant like pav bhaji had been a long journey for me. I started on a fumbling note, with the texture and flavors never coming out right. Googling out many websites for a perfect recipe, subtracting /adding/adjusting many ingredients, I was able to churn out a good one, but definitely not the best one.

Finally a visit to Nupur's One Hot stove and I had a gut feeling that I was about to scream Eureka! For the first time I tried pav bahji without onions and I almost danced with joy, in my kitchen, which was smelling like a pav bhaji corner of a restaurant. Agreed that the colour was not bright red (as I completely avoid red chillies) but taste...hmmm.. we licked the pan clean...literally!

Since then I almost stick to her recipe every time I make pav bhaji (and in that case my close family and friends too, with whom I obviously shared the recipe). In due course of time, I started using very small amount of onions , since browned onions give better colour to pav bhaji, than no onions. You can go ahead and add some red/orange food colour. I do not like adding artificial food colours in my everyday food.

In restaurants, pav bhaji is made on huge iron griddle, mashing all the boiled vegetables and tomato puree, along with spices, in generous amount of butter. But at home the same can be made using a fry pan or even Kadhai.


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Recipe: Pavbahji (A mixed vegetable semi dry curry, served with soft buns)
Prep Time: 30 minutes including boiling of vegetables
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: Three hungry adults
Shelf Life:Best eaten fresh straight from the griddle or pan, but could be refrigerated for a day
Recipe Inspiration/Source: Onehotstove
Recipe Level: Easy or Medium
Spice Level: Medium
Recipe/Post by: Alka


Ingredients:
  • 1 very small onion, diced (original recipe does not require this)
  • 400 gms cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder or red chili paste(I skipped this and used 3-4 green chillies instead)
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 cups tomato puree (I used 4 ripe tomatoes, blanched and pureed)
  • 1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)...optional
  • 1 tbsp Everest pav-bhaji masala (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp Garam masala powder (Again this is my addition to the original recipe and I used Everest brand)
Special Utensils:
  • Pressure cooker to boil vegetables
  • Potato Masher

Photobucket

Procedure:

  1. Pick the cauliflower with tender stalks and simmer for few minutes in hot water containing some salt. This is to get rid of tiny insects if any.Let the florets sit in hot water for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and chop potatoes, shell fresh green peas(or you can use frozen ones).I also use few leaves of cabbage, just to add some volume, without compromising on taste.
  3. Boil the above vegetables in pressure cooker for 4-5 whistles.
  4. Meanwhile chop onions finely, blanch and puree tomatoes, if using green chillies, grind those along with tomatoes.
  5. Heat oil in a fry pan or Kadahi and saute the onions till brown in colour. Do not caramelize these or the taste will be lost. Add diced capsicum(bell pepper), and cook for few seconds without letting peppers turn dark.
  6. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute some more.
  7. Add turmeric powder, chili powder (less if using green chilies and more if not) and salt to taste. Saute for a few seconds.
  8. Add tomato puree, peas(if using frozen,do not boil these), boiled potatoes and cauliflower(and peas if using fresh peas), pav-bhaji masala and butter.
  9. Keep mashing the whole mixture with potato masher, on low flame. If kept on high flame, the mixture splutters, resulting scalded arms :-(
  10. You can add about half cup of water(I use the water in which vegetables were boiled), more or less, to make it a semi dry curry.
  11. Adjust the seasoning and let it simmer for few minutes.
  12. Garnish with chopped onions, a dash of lemon and a blob of butter(ok ..ok...skip this if you are watching calories).
  13. Serve piping hot, straight from the stove on to the plate,wiping it clean with some buttered(again??....help please !) soft buns, slightly roasted on griddle.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • You can add other vegetables like carrot, beans etc, but they do take away that tangy flavor .
  • Weight watchers can skip butter on pav and as garnish, but do add some while cooking pav bhaji, it really makes the difference.
  • Ideally the pan is smeared with some butter and pav bhaji and pav are then coated with this mixture on pan, roasting it slightly.But you can simply roast it on griddle,without any butter, till slightly crisp.
  • Again in restaurants, the onion provided with pav bhaji is not pungent in taste and also pinkish in colour.For that, simply chop the onions finely and mix about 1 spoon of grated raw beetroot.That takes care of both, taste and colour of onions.


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9 comments

  1. Pari // 10 September 2009 at 15:10  

    That's an all time favorite and yours looks very inviting Alka.

    As you said, you avoid adding red chili. To get that extra red colour in your bhaaji the next time , try avoiding the turmeric. I have done that and I was happy with the result.

  2. Nags // 11 September 2009 at 08:23  

    this is a winner no? even i make her version all the time :)

  3. Sum // 11 September 2009 at 11:56  

    Awwwwwwwww..... It's soooo tempting.... I want to make it.....

  4. Chitra // 11 September 2009 at 15:48  

    Wow, iam drooling.Bright pics :)

  5. Sudeshna // 11 September 2009 at 19:01  

    Oh I love pau bhajis, and your pics are so tempting:).

    Please do visit my blog, we are hosting a contest for this festive season, and there will be an ebook published along with the round-up of the event, get to know more here - http://bengalicuisine.net/2009/09/08/durga-puja-food-festival/

  6. Khaugiri // 12 September 2009 at 10:53  

    My all time favorite..... Pics are very tempting :)

  7. Purva Desai // 13 September 2009 at 10:02  

    Yummilicious.....nothing can beat Pav Bhaji when it comes to street food........drooling over the pic

  8. Shobana senthilkumar // 13 September 2009 at 19:03  

    Hi,
    first time here,
    u hv got a gr8 blog....pav bhaji luks yum and rich:)

  9. Aps // 13 September 2009 at 19:49  

    Pav haji luks so tempting... my mouth is watering... now tht u have remmebered me bout tht i think i have to make it...:)