Pav Bhaji

[editor’s note. I like Pav Bhaji a lot, I love it with melted cheese on top, and I’ve even had pretty good pizza where they use Pav Bhaji instead of tomato sauce. It’s also 100% plant-based, if you use vegan butter. So of course I’ve been wanting to run a recipe for the newsletter. Turns out our senior cashier Rakhi makes Pav Bhaji just about weekly. This is her recipe.

Pav Bhaji was originally provided as a cheap lunch for textile workers in Mumbai. It was, in the words of one writer, made from “all the leftovers.” You can use a similar philosophy here. Don’t feel constrained by precise quantities. Just make a mash from whatever you’ve got, and enjoy -Adam].   

Pav Bhaji is popular Indian street food.  Pav means “bread” or “dinner roll” and bhaji means “vegetable dish.” So Pav Bhaji is a mashed vegetable dish served with buttered Western-style rolls. Normally Pav Bhaji is about half potatoes, but when I make it for my son, I replace most of them with even more nutrient dense vegetables. -Rakhi 

Serves 4 

  • 1½ C chopped carrots 
  • 3 C cauliflower florets 
  • 1 medium yellow potato, peeled & cubed 
  • 1 C chopped red bell pepper 
  • 1 C frozen peas 
  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided + more for the rolls 
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds 
  • 1 C finely chopped onion 
  • 5 Tbsp butter 
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic 
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger 
  • 1 C chopped fresh or store-bought tomatoes 
  • 1-2 Tbsp Pav Bhaji masala spice mix 
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika (optional for color) 
  • for garnishing ¼ C chopped cilantro 
  • for garnishing, lemon juice or lemon wedges 
  • soft dinner rolls for serving 
  • salt to taste 

Cooking method

  1. In a pot, set cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, red bell pepper and frozen peas with 3 cups of water. Add 1tsp salt and cover the pot. Boil the vegetables together on medium heat till tender (around 10 to 15 mins). Using a potato masher, mash all the vegetable. 
  2. In another shallow pan melt 2 tbs butter on medium heat, then add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add chopped onions and sauté for two mins. Then add grated ginger and garlic. I use cheese grater to grate. Continue to cook for 1 more mins. Now add chopped tomatoes and mix well. Let the tomatoes cook for 3 mins until softened. Add the Pav Bhaji masala and paprika powder. I like to add paprika powder to give it more color. Now add the remaining butter, smashed vegetables and 1/4 cup water. Cook for another 10 minutes. 
  3. Give a good squeeze of lemon and chopped cilantro. Top with the rest of the butter. 
  4. Gently toast the dinner rolls, and serve well buttered. 

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