Pav bhaji is a popular and beloved street food dish that originated in Maharashtra, India. It consists of a flavorful vegetable curry, known as bhaji, made with a medley of mashed vegetables cooked with spices and served with buttery pav, which are soft and fluffy bread rolls, called ladi pav. The dish is often garnished with chopped crunchy onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lemon, and is enjoyed as a satisfying and flavorful meal.
Pav bhaji is known for its deliciously tangy, spicy, and aromatic flavors, and has become a favorite comfort food for many, both in India and around the world. Its unique blend of flavors and textures makes it a delightful and satisfying culinary experience, perfect for indulging at any time of the day.
Pav bhaji is a dish that can bring comfort and joy, especially during cold weather or when craving for a hearty and flavorful meal. This crowd-pleasing dish is loved by people of all ages. It's a great option for family gatherings, parties, or potlucks, as it can be easily scaled up to serve a large number of people.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Burst of flavors: Pav bhaji is known for its bold and robust flavors, combining a medley of spices, vegetables, and tangy accents. The blend of aromatic spice blend, tangy tomato-based curry, and the richness of butter make the bhaji an explosion of flavors in every bite.
- Enjoy street food at home. Making pav bhaji at home allows you to enjoy the deliciousness of this iconic street food without concerns about additives that may be present in street food. You have control over the quality of ingredients, making it a healthier and safer option.
- This is one of the best ways to add vegetables to your meals. The bhaji is loaded with a variety of vegetables, making it a great way to incorporate veggies into your diet. The vegetable curry is packed with flavors and nutrients, making it a tasty and wholesome meal option.
- You can give this classic dish a twist by making sloppy joe or a burger/slider. Pav bhaji can be used creatively to give classic dishes like sloppy joes, burgers, or sliders a unique and delicious twist.
- The bhaji is freezer-friendly. Make a large batch, portion, and freeze the bhaji. This makes it a convenient and time-saving option for meal prep. Simply portion the bhaji and freeze it for up to three months, and you'll have a quick and delicious meal option whenever you need it.
What is ladi pav?
Ladi pav, also known as pav buns or dinner rolls, is a type of soft and fluffy bread that is commonly used to serve with pav bhaji or vada pav. "Ladi" in Hindi means a "line" or "row," and "pav" refers to the bun or bread.
Also called pav bun, is typically made with all-purpose flour, yeast, sugar, salt, milk, and butter, which gives it its distinctive flavor and texture. Pav bread is usually baked in a tray or a pan, resulting in a row of connected buns that are easy to tear apart individually. The buns are soft and have a light and airy texture, making them perfect for soaking up the flavorful curry of pav bhaji. Also, check out this recipe to make potato-stuffed buns.
Homemade Pav Bhaji Masala Powder
I have earlier shared my recipe for making pav bhaji masala powder, which is a special blend of spices. It is really simple to put together and the best part of this spice blend is that you won’t need any additional spices to make the bhaji.
I use a mix of both whole and powdered spices to make it. The whole spices I use are coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dried chili, black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and fennel seeds. The powdered spices I use are amchur (dry mango powder), garlic powder, nutmeg powder, and black salt.
While this masala powder is easily available in Indian stores, it does not match the taste of freshly ground masala powder. And let us not forget the unique taste it adds to the dish because you can tweak it as per your taste buds.
Ingredients to make the Bhaji (vegetable curry)
Potatoes: Potatoes are the main ingredient in the bhaji. I prefer to use potatoes in moderation and substitute them with a larger quantity of cauliflower to reduce the carb content and incorporate the goodness of cauliflower in the dish.
Other vegetables: I use cauliflower, carrots, green beans, green peas, and bell peppers.
Pav bhaji masala powder: I use homemade pav bhaji masala powder. However, you may choose to buy this special spice blend from Indian stores.
Butter: This is a key ingredient in making the best-tasting bhaji. It does not taste as good when made with oil. If you are following a vegan diet you can replace the butter with an oil of your choice.
Red onions: Red onions work best to make the bhaji masala base. However, you can replace it with yellow onions.
Tomatoes: I use tomatoes in two forms – fresh and tomato paste. Tomato paste is not essential but helps in adding a red color to the dish.
Pav: Pav is nothing but dinner rolls.
Onions, cilantro, and lemon/lime: These are used as garnish but are essential to lift up the taste of the dish. Do not skip them if you are after the authentic street-style taste.
Step 1: Take potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, peas, beans, and green bell peppers in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the veggies and bring it to a boil. Cover and cook until all the vegetables are completely done (images 1 and 2).
Step 2: Using a potato masher, mash the boiled vegetables well (images 3 and 4).
Step 3: Heat butter in a heavy bottom pan and add finely chopped onions. Fry them until they are golden brown (images 5 and 6).
Step 4: Add fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, masala powder, and salt. Let it cook until the tomatoes are completely done (images 7 and 8).
Step 5: Add the mashed vegetables to the masala gravy. Add a little water (half to one cup) to adjust consistency. Simmer for 15 minutes (images 9 and 10).
Step 6: Finish the bhaji with 1-2 tablespoons of butter and mix well (image 11).
Step 7: Heat a frying pan and add butter. Once it melts, sprinkle some masala powder. Cut the soft dinner rolls horizontally and toast them in butter (image 12).
Properly cook and mash the vegetables: The vegetables used in pav bhaji, such as potatoes, cauliflower, peas, and capsicum, need to be properly cooked until they are soft and tender. Once cooked, mash them well using a potato masher or the back of a spoon to achieve an even consistency for the bhaji. You can also use an immersion blender to mash the vegetables.
Don't shy away from using butter while making bhaji and toasting the pav. Butter is an important ingredient in pav bhaji that adds richness and enhances the flavor of the dish.
Using a homemade pav bhaji masala spice blend can make a significant difference in the flavor of your pav bhaji. Consider making your own masala powder at home for an authentic and aromatic taste. Alternatively, there a several brands of this spice mix that you can buy from Indian grocery stores.
To make it spicier, you can use red chili powder or cayenne when making the onion tomato masala.
Toast the bread with a sprinkle of masala powder to add that extra flavor and give it the perfect street-style touch. Always serve the bhaji with freshly toasted buns.
If you are following a vegan diet, you may replace butter with an oil of your choice, but sadly, the dish may not taste as good. Butter plays a key role in the flavor profile of pav bhaji.
If you want to save time, you can make pav bhaji in advance and freeze the leftover bhaji for later use. Simply portion the bhaji and freeze it in airtight containers for up to three months. Thaw and reheat when ready to serve.
You can also serve them with sourdough dinner rolls for a delicious variation.
Pro-tip: Using tomato paste to make the bhaji gives a deep red color to this dish.
Always serve the hot bhaji with freshly toasted pav. To toast the pav, cut it into two halves. Heat lots of butter in a pan and sprinkle a little pav bhaji masala powder. Place the sliced pav and toast it until golden.
To add freshness and tanginess to pav bhaji, serve it with a side of onions, cilantro, and lemon juice. These garnishes can elevate the flavors of the dish and provide a balanced taste. Don't forget to add a dollop of butter on top of the bhaji just like how the street vendors at Juhu Beach do! Don't forget to finish the meal with a glass of chilled salt lassi.
Vegetarian Sloppy Joe
A sloppy joe is a sandwich with a filling made of minced meat, onions, sauces, and seasoning, and served in a burger bun. Also known as slush burger, this American dish is made with either beef or pork mince. This dish can be served as a vegetarian alternative to the classic sloppy joe. Just add the bhaji to the toasted pav, top with onion rings, cilantro, and lemon juice, and serve.
Pav Bhaji Burger / Slider
Mix the bhaji with 1 tablespoon of besan (gram flour/chickpea flour) and shape them into burger patties. Heat some butter on a tava/griddle and shallow fry these patties. Assemble them like any regular burger and enjoy!
More snacks recipes
Click here to see my recipe collection of snacks and street foods.
If you liked this recipe, please don't forget to give a 5-star rating and leave a comment below.
BEST Pav bhaji (Mumbai Street-Style)
For the bhaji:
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 cups cauliflower
- 2 medium carrots
- ½ cup peas
- 8-10 green beans
- 1 medium bell pepper
- 2 large tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup butter
- 3 tablespoon pav bhaji masala powder
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust as per taste
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 8 pav bread or dinner roll
- 1 teaspoon pav bhaji masala powder
- ¼ cup red onions finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon cilantro
- Lemon or lime wedges
Prep the veggies:
- Take potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, peas, beans, and bell peppers in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the veggies and bring it to a boil.
- Cover and cook until all the vegetables are completely done.
- Once the vegetables are cooked, mash them well using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.
Make the bhaji:
- In a heavy bottom pan or kadhai, heat ¼ cup of butter. Add onions and fry until they are golden brown.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, pav bhaji masala powder, and salt.
- Mix well and let it cook until the tomatoes are completely done.
- Add the mashed vegetables to the masala gravy. Add little water (around ½ cup) to adjust consistency.
- Mix well and bring it to a boil. Simmer the bhaji for 15 minutes.
- Top with 1-2 tablespoons of butter and mix well.
Serve Pav Bhaji:
- Cut the pav bread/dinner roll horizontally into two pats.
- Heat 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. Sprinkle pav bhaji masala.
- Place the sliced pav bread. Toast until they are golden.
- Serve pav bhaji with some butter, chopped onion, cilantro, and lemon wedges
Leave a Reply