A popular street food in Mumbai, Pav Bhaji is a vegetable curry served alongside soft bread. As with most Indian recipes – street food or otherwise – it is a dish with innumerable variations. But with variation must come a certain level of consistency, and you can rest assured that Mumbai pav bhaji will regularly contain potato and peas.
If you can look beyond peas and potatoes – I often find it difficult to – other vegetables often used include cauliflower, carrots and beans. Essentially, everything is within bounds. Only your imagination limits you. And you can use different combinations of vegetables to alter your pav bhaji. Carrots, for instance, will sweeten the dish, while potatoes thicken and cauliflower does both.
Like many of my most recent masala recipes, pav bhaji is made entirely without fuss. The use of butter is, however critical; simplicity of flavour makes it difficult to skimp on the fat. Please don’t use only oil. It’s not worth it.
Many of you will be wondering what on earth pav bhaji masala is. It certainly isn’t a spice blend you’ll easily find. So you’ll want to make it! Though it can be simplified, you’ll need cardamom, coriander seeds, cumin, black pepper, fennel, chilli (optional), cinnamon, cloves and amchur powder. Click here for the recipe…
There are many possible variations on the theme of the basic pav bhaji recipe. It’s a dish you can play around with to your heart’s content. But if you’d like to transform it from what is firmly a side dish into more of a main, try adding some golden brown cubes of paneer cheese. Delicious.
Mumbai Pav Bhaji
- 300g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 large handfuls of frozen peas
- 50g butter
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
- 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 3 tsp pav bhaji masala
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 – 2 cups of water
- bread and butter to serve
- Pop the potatoes on to boil in well salted water. Just before the potatoes are cooked add the peas and drain after a minute or two.
- Meanwhile, saute the onion and cumin together in the butter and oil. Once softened add the chopped tomatoes, ginger paste, garlic paste, pav bhaji masala and chilli powder.
- Once cooked, roughly mash the potatoes and peas, before combining with the onion, tomatoes and spices.
- Add the salt and enough water to bring the desired consistency; neither too thick, nor too thin.
- Bring the pav bhaji back to a gentle simmer and serve immediately with plenty of bread and butter, or alongside another curry.
Cost: It should be of no surprise that this vegetarian example of Indian street food is frugal in the extreme. A mere £1.50.