When there are tidbits of veggies lying in the veggie basket, I often go for one of my favorite street foods, Pav Bhaji. It is one of those easy to put together meals. Pav, the butter rolls, and Bhaji, the mishmash of vegetables and potato that gets cooked in spices and finished with a dollop of butter. I read in several articles that this dish was once the staple meal for mill workers. I can understand the reason behind it because when it is served with soft buns on the side, it turns into a carb loaded meal. It is absolutely required for these mill workers to get going. Topped with crunchy raw red onions and wedges of lime, Pav Bhaji is one of those favorite street foods that we all crave.
Different states in India have their own take on this dish. Some go pure veg without onion or garlic. Some cultures don’t eat potatoes so they add boiled green plantain instead. There is also a variation where the vegetables are not mashed down but kept intact but in tiny sizes. The spices added also differs based on the region.
My Mom never made Pav Bhaji and growing up in Shillong, I didn’t have access to this street food. But once I had my first taste of this comforting street food, I just couldn’t get enough of it. One of my friends once made it at home and that’s when I learnt how easy it is to prepare. I don’t use any special spice of my own. I simple use the store-bought Pav Bhaji spice mix. However, if you cannot find any Indian store nearby, you can prepare this spice mix at home too. Here is a recipe that you could try.
for the bhaji
- 1½ cups diced potato
- 1½ cups cauliflower florets
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- ½ cup chopped eggplant
- ¾ cup red onion finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons pav bhaji masala
- 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup green peas
- 1 tablespoon butter
few other ingredients
- 1 tablespoon butter
- butter rolls
- lime wedges
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
- Place the cauliflower florets, potatoes and carrots in a pot filled with water. Place the pot on medium high heat. Sprinkle some salt and boil the vegetables until they’re tender. Drain the vegetables and then boil the eggplant in the same way until it’s tender. Mash all the boiled veggies and keep it aside to be used later.
- Place a heavy bottom skillet on medium heat and pour the oil. Drop the grated ginger in hot oil and give it a stir. Scatter the finely chopped onions, sprinkle the salt and turmeric. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or until the onions are softened.
- Drop the tomatoes and give it a mix. Sprinkle the turmeric and chili powder. Cook for 3 minutes by mashing the tomatoes as they cook. Then, drop the mashed veggies and give it a mix. Sprinkle the pav bhaji masala and keep cooking for about 5 minutes. Next, drop the peas and cook for another 2 minutes. If you like it a little runny, add some water. Taste for salt and add any, if needed.
- Drop the dollop of butter and give it a mix. Then, switch off the heat.
- Place another flat pan on medium high heat. Rub a little butter on the butter rolls and gently press the butter side down on the hot pan.
- Sprinkle finely chopped red onion and squeeze fresh lime juice on top of the bhaji. Serve it warm with butter rolls.