Mumbai Pav Bhaji/ Mashed vegetables in butter!

Pav Bhaji is one of most enjoyed street food of Mumbai, India. Pav translates to bread and bhaji is a vegetable dish. The origin of this dish is traced to textile mill workers in Mumbai in the 1850s.The mill workers used to have lunch breaks too short for a full meal, and a light lunch was preferred to a heavy one, as the employees had to return to strenuous physical labor after lunch. A vendor created this dish using items or parts of other dishes available on the menu. (WIKI)

The bhaji made today is a medley of mashed vegetables of the consistency of sloppy joes. On the streets of Mumbai, the vendors cook it on a big flat pan smashing the vegetables as they flavor with the spices. The unhealthy but tasty element is the oodles of butter added. Also the bulk of the dish is mashed potatoes.I have tried to make it healthy by going easy on the butter and using mashed cauliflower as the base of the dish.

I also made Gluten Free Pav to go with it. Recipe is here.

1 small head of cauliflower- break into florets
1 potato - cut into big chunks
2 big carrots - cut into big chunks
1 big onion chopped finely
2 tomatoes - pureed
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
2 tbsp. chili garlic paste (i used Sriracha sauce)
2 tbsp. pav bhaji masala pdr (available at Indian stores)
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander pdr
1/2 tsp. chili pdr (add according to your spice preference)
2 tbsp. of butter
1 tsp. of oil.
1 cup water
handful of chopped cilantro

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the cauliflower, potatoes and carrots. Cook till just done.
  2. In a large pan, melt butter and add oil. Oil is added to prevent burning of the butter.
  3. Add cumin seeds and let it sizzle. Add chopped onions and saute till pink
  4. Now add the sriracha sauce and tomato puree. Let this mixture cook for about 5 mins.
  5. Add all the spice pdrs and cook for 10 mins.
  6. Then add the peas and bell pepper and cook some more. Add the cooked vegetables and mash it well with a potato masher. Add water to create a thick gravy. Let this mixture cook for another 10 mins for the spices to flavor the vegetables.
  7. Bhaji is ready. Garnish with cilantro. By now the aroma will draw everybody into the kitchen.

Quickly heat another flat pan. Butter the pav and toast on the pan till golden brown. Serve the bhaji with golden pav, red onion slivers and lemon wedges. You can add a small dollop of butter on the hot bhaji to enhance the taste. Enjoy the goodness of street food in the comfort of your home.


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