Pav is Portugese for bread (pao). Bhaji is simply vegetable(s) in Hindi or Marathi. So this dish simply means vegetables eaten with bread. Sounds rather bland, doesn’t it? Very plain- eat mashed vegetables with bread, humans have been doing some form of this type of eating for centuries.
Unfortunately simplicity of this name doesn’t do the dish any justice. With each bite of the butter soaked pav with exploding flavor of spices from mashed vegetables; this dish can come closest to sloppy joes in terms of it’s appearance and presentation.
No matter how simple the name, it’s immensely tasty with rich, crowded spicy-savory flavors and bright colors and that’s what counts at the end of the day.. Of course, once you have had this, the name will sounds like music to your ears and a treat for all your senses!
Eating this will take you at least in spirit to the streets of Mumbai, which are filled with so much life, lights and colors! Even at 2:00 am in the night. And there will always be one food cart just round the corner selling this beautiful savory food no matter what time of the day it is. I am nostalgic about it; the taste does bring out memories.. Memories of eating this out at favorite restaurants with family or with a group of friends after exams in twilight on the side of the road…
Post about excursions on streets of Mumbai will appear here soon enough. But right now, back to Pav Bhaji. The vegetables used in making this are numerous and quite open to experimentation. But when I choose my vegetables for this, one thing I absolutely don’t compromise on- its iconic bright red color! So I choose vegetables that are red or can take the color. Tomato puree is essential to give the color and tangy fresh flavor. Potatoes and cauliflower can take the color well. Red pepper add a nice kick and carrots work well too. Another thing about Pav Bhaji- if you aren’t making your own mix of spices for this, use Everest Masala. You see the brilliant color in these pictures? Yup, this masala will give you that. The fragrance too… It’s unmistakable, very unique and I guaranty will get the juices in your month flowing! I have tried different brands, different proportions, even mixtures of different spices but this particular brand takes the cake. Consistently for as many years as I can remember pav bhaji being made at home, this has delivered same taste year after year. And that’s pretty amazing! My mom swears by it and I do too. You will get it in any indian grocery stores.
Another equally important thing is to have onion, cilantro and butter to garnish on top of served bhaji. It’s not mere garnish- fresh onions accentuate the flavors, cilantro add freshness and butter adds what butter does best. Increase the satiety value!
Enjoy this on a weekend with a bunch of friends. Eat this hot and quick. Follow up with butterscotch ice cream. Or cold coffee. Or both. Follow up with board games! That’s a B-E-S-T weekend night E-V-E-R!!
Your Map to Indian Sloppy Joes- Pav Bhaji
Author: Minty Chai
Total Time: 1 hr 30 min
- 4 potatoes
- 1 small cauliflower
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 large onion
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 2 tablespoons everest pav bhaji masala
- 1 tablespoon kashmiri chili powder
- 2 teaspoon red chili powder
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 lemon
- Boil or steam potatoes and cauliflower. While that’s being done, chop onion, red pepper and garlic finely. Cut tomatoes in large pieces and blend it together. You can use tomato puree too.
- Peel potatoes and mash them along with cauliflower. If you put potatoes and cauliflower in boiling water to steam, don’t throw the water away. Use that in your cooking instead of fresh water.
- In a large pot, add the oil, keep on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add garlic and onion. Stir occasionally and saute it till onion is tender and translucent.
- Add mashed mixture of potatoes and cauliflower. Add the pureed tomatoes. Mix everything together and add all the spices. Squeeze half a lemon juice.
- Once the all the mashed vegetables and spices come together, check the color. If it’s bright red/brick color, you are on the right track. If you aren’t there yet, increase masala or kashmiri chili powder which has bright color but it’s not spicy.
- Mash everything once again and bring it to the right consistency, something that’s thicker than creamy soup but thinner than risotto.
- Add the butter and blend it in.
- Serve hot with pan toasted bread (buttered), chopped fresh onion and cilantro.