Pav Bhaji

Food is the most primitive form of comfort.
~Sheila Graham

Craving for some Indian comfort food? I have just the dish for you: A plate of Pav-bhaji. It’s a high-carb, high-cal meal consisting of dinner rolls (pav) shallow-fried in generous amounts of butter and a spicy vegetable curry (bhaji.) Take a pav, put a couple of heaped table spoons of bhaji, top it with some onions & lime juice and you have one of the most popular street foods of India. It is so popular that it has a permanent place in the menus of Indian restaurants, north or south. Eating pav-bhaji on a balmy evening from a crowded city street stall has it’s own charm. The Indian eating-out experience is just not complete without it.

One of the things about street-food is that we don’t like any variations in the recipe. We try hard to get the same taste as the road-side stall. It takes a few tries to get it right but thanks to the ready-made pav-bhaji masala (Everest and Badshah brands are my favorite), making pav-bhaji at home is actually a pleasure. In this recipe I use tomato paste which enhances the taste and color of the bhaji.

Pav-Bhaji

1 medium size cauliflower chopped into very small pieces
1/2 cup chopped carrot
2 medium size potatoes
Note: Pav-bhaji tastes better when the vegetables are finely cut.
2 medium size tomatoes, chopped
2 medium size onions, chopped

1/2 cup green peas
2 green chilies, chopped
1/2 tea spoon grated ginger
2 table spoon tomato paste
2 dozen pav buns or bread slices
Approx. 1/2 cup butter
2 table spoon oil
1/4 tea spoon turmeric
A handful of chopped hara dhaniya/cilantro

For the masala:
1/2 tea spoon red chili powder
3-4 tea spoon pav-bhaji masala (I like Everest brand)

This recipe should easily satisfy 4 people with a robust appetite. 🙂

1. Cook/steam, peel and cut potatoes in tiny cubes. Cover and keep aside.
2. Cook/steam peas, carrot and cauliflower in 4 cups of water until soft. Keep aside. People who are used to pressure cooking can cook the veggies except onion in pressure cooker. It’s a much faster and better way of cooking.
3. In a big, wide pan, heat oil and fry onions for about 10 minutes.
4. Add turmeric, green chilies, ginger, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste.  Garlic lovers can also add a clove or two of garlic, minced or finely cut.  Stir well and cook for another 10 minutes. Add 1/4 of water if needed.
5. Add chopped potatoes and cooked vegetables along with the water in which they were cooked.
6. Add pav-bhaji masala, red chili powder and salt. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
7. Garnish with chopped hara dhaniya/cilantro.

To make Pav-bhaji:
Shallow-fry a pav on a tava/fry pan with about 1 tea spoon of butter for about 2 minutes. Press pav on both sides on high heat for about 15 seconds before taking out.
Serve with a bowl of bhaji, a lemond wedge, lassi/yoghurt and chopped onion (optional.)

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