Recipe – Pav Bhaji

Recipe - Pav Bhaji

I don’t even want to know how long it’s been since I posted a recipe.

Months, definitely.

Years?  Maybe.

This one is worth the wait.

Dubbed Indian Sloppy Joes when I was a kid, pav bhaji is at the top of my “must eat” list every time I go to India.  The best ones can’t be found inside any hotel or restaurant.  They’re found on the street carts of Mumbai, with patrons lopping up the spiced potato and vegetable mixture with crispy, buttered bread and their fingers.

Pav bhaji isn’t just a food.  It’s an experience.

An experience my parents love to deny me, with the fear that street food would make me sick.  The ones in restaurants and hotels are perfectly fine, but never as good as the ones by street vendors.

I would know.  I sneaked a taste from my cousin’s order, and the blend of textures, spices, and loads of ghee still dance on my tastebuds.

While it’s no Mumbai, this recipe will replicate the experience at home – and without the dust or wayward cows.

Pav Bhaji, serves 8
adapted from Veg Recipes of India

– 2 medium sized potatoes
– 1 cup chopped cauliflower
– 1 cup chopped carrots
– 1 large onion, finely chopped
– 2-3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
– 1 green bell pepper
– 2-3 jalapeños (keep seeds if you want it spicy)
– 2-3 teaspoons of ginger-garlic paste (blend 4 garlic cloves and a 2-inch piece of ginger)
– 4-5 tablespoons of garam masala powder
– 1-3 teaspoons of cayenne (based on taste)
– 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
– 1-2 teaspoons of cumin
– Juice of 1 lemon
– salt and pepper, to taste
– butter (the best quality you can find)
– 1 package of white hamburger buns

1.  Boil the potatoes, cauliflower, and carrots over the stovetop in a Dutch oven or large pot.  Once tender, reserve 1 cup of cooking water and drain.
2.  Pour the cooking water and 2 tablespoons of butter, and lightly mash the vegetables – they should be in small chunks, not pureed.
3.  In a pan, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Add the chopped onions and fry until they’re browned.
4.  Add the ginger-garlic paste, and fry until the raw smell disappears.
5.  Add the jalapeños and fry for a minute.
6.  Add the tomatoes and fry until they become soft and chewy.
7.  Add the rest of the spices and cook well.
8.  Remove the pan from heat and add the spice and vegetable mixture to the mashed vegetables.
9.  Add some water, if needed (I added 1/2 cup) and combine well.  Let the mixture simmer for 7-8 minutes.  Add additional water is needed.
10.  Mash the mixture (I used an immersion blender) to achieve a slightly smooth consistency (an optional step, but I like mine to be at the consistency of chili or a stew).
11.  Add the bell peppers and cook until they have just a slight crunch.
12.  While the vegetable mixture is simmering, gratuitously butter the cut side of the hamburger buns and bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 5-7 minutes on each side.  Both sides should be a golden brown with a slight crunch as you bite into it.
13.  Garnish the mixture with lemon juice and cilantro, and serve.  And enjoy!