Pav Bhaji (Spicy Vegetable Mash & Buttery Indian Rolls)


My affair with street food has always been quite serious and never ending. An affair, which overlooks hygienic cooking environs, comfort of air-conditioned restaurants and even lack of nutrition. Something, which is meant to deliver a happy dance on my taste buds from crispy fried samosas to chewy kebabs to sweet popsicles to spicy beverages. Not to forget the dirt-cheap prices and quick service. Back home, despite the blow up of international fast food joints and cafes,when it actually came to choosing a quick bite, a deep fried samosa from the neighborhood sweets shop always scored over a burger. The choice overlooked the open air frying, lack of cleanliness & the flies around, it was the joy of giving in to the incredible taste.

India, a country of few billion people thrown together with handful of cultures and religious beliefs, alongside a grave number of vegetarians, has its own color and character when it comes to cuisine. Broadly, the cuisine can be classified into northern, southern, eastern and western.The same is true for street foods too. Each Indian city specializes in its own variety of street food. They say, that you can taste the culinary traditions of a country in its street food. Go to north indian states of Delhi and Punjab, you will find people rooting for samosa & chai, chaat, kebabs and rumali rotis (flatbreads) or pakoras (fritters). Land in the western states of Maharashtra (Mumbai & Pune ) to gorge on the vada pavs, pav bhaji, sev- poori and dhabeli. Reach down south to graze upon dosas (rice crepes), idlis, vadas (lentil fritters) or sundals.Or eat Tibetan momos, egg rolls & typical indo-chinese in the eastern states of India. The common thread binding all these foods is that of lip-smacking taste,which is sure to leave behind a lasting impression & satisfaction.

Inspite of all this regional classification, each variety of street food is available in every corner of the country,adapted to suit the local taste buds. Mostly, it is an indigenous improvisation of traditional fare but at the end of the day, it all boils down to what sells and how the neighborhood likes it, one or two exceptions here and there don’t matter much. The concept of fusion cuisine has even hit Indian street food, in all its flair.You can get things like chinese chaat or aloo tikki frankies etc selling like hot cakes on indian streets.Sometimes the fusion clicks but my experiences with these regional touches here and there have not been very pleasant, infact totally forgetable.Personally, it was quite painful to for me during my Pune days to order a “Punjabi Samosa” and get a concoction of a couple of samosas thrown open on a plate & topped with a spoonful of chickpea curry along with chopped onions ; samosas are best enjoyed on their own with a chutney (not with curry) ..similarly the aloo tikki (potato cutlet) sprinkled with some grated coconut got to my nerves big time …the same alien feeling which a hard core Maharastrian will face when served with a Delhi version of sweetish Pav-Bhaji topped with shredded paneer & almonds.I even know of a place in Delhi where they sell cashew chow mein if that makes sense to you…or a dosa  filled with scrambled egg anyone?

I did not know the actual & authentic taste of Pav Bhaji until I tasted it in Pune.And it was such a hugely different from the north indian version. Pav Bhaji  is a street food dish native to western part of India and is popular in most metropolitan areas in India, particularly on beaches of Mumbai & the adjoining states where the vendors make it to order.‘Pav/Pao’ is a word derided from Portuguese language meaning a small loaf of bread. ‘Bhaji’ translates to a vegetable dish in a local dialect of western India.So, Pav-Bhaji is a a spicy vegetable mash served with a couple of butter (loaded) yeasty pull apart rolls along with chopped onions, green chilies and lemon wedges. For me it’s a full meal complete with the satisfaction it brings along. The bhaji is meant to be buttery, smooth and almost pasty. You will need to buy Pav Bhaji Masala, which is a typical spice blend available in indian stores, and keeps for 1-2 years without losing its fervour.The bhaji leftovers taste completely awesome, infact I always make extra to be eaten the next day with enhanced depth of flavor. Pav once made can be stored for up to 2-3 days & you can make some indian inspired burgers with them. The dish has a typical luscious taste due to the amount of butter that goes into it, taking away the butter will also take away the authentic taste. Another thing, the style in which one must eat Pav Bhaji – with fingers & continuously licking them – trust me and try it :) This recipe was given to me by one of my best friend’s mom who hailed from Mumbai.Her homemade Pav Bhaji is the best I have eaten till date. Below is the replica (nearly) of her version :-

Printable Recipe

[Adapted from Taste of Home Recipes]

Ingredients:- [Makes 8-10 medium sized Pav]

  • 3 cups flour (I used 1.5 cups each of all-purpose and whole wheat flour) [ You can use bread flour too]
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2.5 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water (for frothing the yeast)
  • 1.5 tbsp honey [ substitute with sugar or maple sugar]
  • 1 – 1 1/4 cups luke warm milk (or as required for kneading the dough)
  • Flour for dusting
  • Melted butter for brushing on top

Method:-
  • If using a combination of flours, sift them once to mix thoroughly.Dissolve yeast in luke warm water mixed with honey and set aside till frothy. Note:-If you dont see foam within 30 seconds of dissolving the yeast,discard the mix & restart.
  • While the yeast is frothing, in a large bowl (enough to hold doubled up dough after rise), tip in the salt.Top it up with flour, melted butter and foamy yeast paste [ in this order].
  • Start mixing in lukewarm milk till everything comes together. Note :- Start with 1/2 cup of milk to begin with. Once a loose dough ball starts to come together, transfer the dough to a floured surface, and continue kneading for 5-8 minutes till you get a soft, elastic dough.While kneading , if you feel that the dough is on the dry side, add a tablespoon (s)of milk, if you feel it sticky, add some flour to bring it together. 
  • Brush some oil on all sides of the bowl, and once kneaded, transfer the dough back to the bowl.Brush some oil on the top of the dough ball, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm, dry place for 1-1.5 hours to rise.

  • Spray your baking sheet with some cooking spray or line with parchment.
  • Once risen, punch down the dough with your knuckles & knead again for 5 minutes.Divide into equal 8-10 portions of the ball size you desire.
  • Next, moisten your palms with some oil, take one portion at a time and roll it up into a dough ball, tightly kneading in between your palms.Note:-Kneading between the palms creates friction which gives the rolls a great texture after baking.

  • Line the dough balls side by side about 1 inch part on the baking sheet and set aside again to rise.About 20-30 minutes. After rising, the sides of the dough balls with touch each other, but dont worry, we ll bake the whole thing as a pull apart loaf.
  • While the dough balls are rising, preheat your oven to 375 F /190 C.
  • After the second rise, bake the dough balls for 15-18 minutes or until the top is starting to turn brown.You can use a skewer to test if they are baked from inside.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F /175 C.Take out the baking sheet, brush the pavs with some melted butter and bake for another 2-5 minutes until the top is golden. (This melted butter brushed on top gives the pavs the typical bakery “brownish” look & adds great flavor too.)
  • Once baked, remove the baking sheet from oven.Let the pavs sit for 5 minutes in the baking sheet itself and then using tongs, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Once cooled completely, store in an air tight box lined with cloth until ready to use.
  • When ready to serve, serve whole (this is how I like them) as it is.Alternatively (this is traditional way of serving ), using a sharp knife, slice the balls in half and brush some more butter on the bread side and lightly brown on a hot skillet/tawa/grill.
  • Serve warm with bhaji (recipe below).

For the Bhaji (Spicy Vegetable Mash)
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)  
  • 4 tbsp canola/vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 fat garlic, grated
  • 2 Thai green chillies, finely chopped [adjust to tolerance]
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 3.5 cups mixed vegetables, chopped* ( I used cauliflower, bell peppers,cabbage, peas, green beans)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and roughly mashed while still hot
  • 1.5 tsp Pav Bhaji Masala (the blend is quite spicy & aromatic,adjust to taste,
    easily available at Indian stores, I use Badshah brand)
  • 1/4 tsp chaat masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter to garnish
  • chopped cilantro/chopped red onion /lime wedges/green chillies to garnish
Note:
  1. You can use chopped carrots , squashes or any vegetables of choice to the bhaji.

Method :-
  •  Heat the oil on high in a heavy bottomed pan/kadhai.
  • When the oil has heated, add the chopped onions and cook till the onions are transculent, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Next, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds till you smell the aroma.
  • Next, add the chopped vegetables to the cast iron pan with a pinch of salt and sauté on medium for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes along with red chilli, coriander,turmeric and pav bhaji masala. Mix well, cover the pan and let cook on medium low heat for 10-15 minutes or till the vegetables start to soften.
  • Next add the potatoes, chaat masala, salt to taste and mix well. Add 1/4 cup water, cover again and let cook for about 10 minutes til the vegetables are done.
  • Using a masher, mash everything depending on how chunky you like them.
  • Now, depending how how thick/thin you want your mash, you can add some water. Simmer for another 5 minutes till you see small, oily  bubbles on the surface & smell an extremely delicious aroma.
  • At this point, put the heat off and let sit for at least 1-2 hours.
  • Before serving, add a dollop of butter, chopped red onions, lemon wedges and cilantro to the bhaji and serve warm with pavs (recipe above)
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!
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Comments

  1. What a gorgeous meal! So comforting and flavorful. Your rolls look very tempting.

    Cheerrs,

    Rosa

  2. ah Tanvi. I swear I wished near you! You totally make me want to pack my bags and go to Pune right right NOW! I love pav bhaji. LOVE LOVE. Been quiet sometime I made it.

  3. Well, I do not do yeast breads yet, BUT eventually I will get there ;-). The bhaji, I can do and this will be such a treat for ME. Thanks for the tip on Everest brand. I’m planning this weekend meal ahead!

  4. I’ve been applying for jobs all day and you guys are sooo tempting me with all the great new posts today including this one. :)

    Mera moon mein paani aaraha hai from all this talk of street food. The Rolls look amazing, I need to try out the recipe, I’m usually not too lucky with bread making. :(

    Wonderful post, my friend. :)

  5. I love both vegetable mash and the buns! They are droolworthy!

  6. What a beautiful combo. This is something I can never turn down. Love the picture of the bread :) It looks very temping.

    Hope you have a great week ahead.

  7. Looks delicious-especially the fresh bread!

    Monica
    http://www.spicediary.com

  8. Gosh you made your own pav! How cool is that!
    The pau bhaji looks too tempting.

  9. So delicious, as always! I will be sure to try the mash first thing.

  10. magicofspice says:

    I have never tried Bhaji before but I love everything here, including those gorgeous rolls!

  11. Wow, that a great meal, love the fresh made bread. The pictures are awesome!
    Hope you have a wonderful week Tanvi :-)

  12. What a fabulous meal complete with these delicious homemade rolls

  13. Wow, looks amazing especially the homemade buns(Pav)….ultimate combo!

  14. I’m with you, street foods are AWESOME. I’ll even go so far as to say the food poisoning is usually worth it. :) Your pictures are gorgeous, I’m so tempted for a giant bowl or two of this, and it s breakfast time. Lol.
    Hope you had an amazing weekend. :)

  15. love the veggie mash!! using cauliflower + potato is a great combo :). and those rolls look perfect! :D

  16. I love street foods and according to me nothing is as tasty as our good old chaat foods. I love ghee toasted pav and yummy bhajji. Never tried making the pav at home. Will do it with your recipe. I have bookmarked this page. As always gorgeous pics!

  17. This looks delicious!

  18. Thank you everyone for stopping by :)

  19. Looks delicious! I am a HUGE pav bhaji fan too but never baked my own pav! Your pav looks beautiful! I am inspire to bake my own once at least :) I make pav bhaji quite often as it’s my husband’s favorite street food!

  20. Just love paav baji..ooh looks so delectable..Bookmarking this!!

  21. I love street food too; that authentic taste can be matched by none. I make the bhaji normally at home but never tried the Pav. Your Pav Bhaji looks really good and really great job on the detailed step by step explanation.

  22. EVERYTHING about this meal is making me hungry! YUM :)

  23. this is so new to me! But it looks DELICIOUS!!

  24. This looks delicious! I love street food, I cannot tell you how happy it made me as a little American girl eating pav bhaji from the food stalls on Chowpatty beach (Yay! Authentic!). Thanks for a reminder of a nice trip, I’ve never made it at home so maybe it’s time to try.

  25. Aah recently I too posted pav bhaji..all time love. But I took the shortcut & used the store bought pavs. Ur roll looks so good. Inspires me to make my own batch next time!!

  26. You know what??? I have never made Pav bhaji. Yes it’s true. Yours looks sooo hyummy that it makes me want to run to my kitchen and start cooking right now. Loved all the shots especially the the last one. There is a very warm feel to it :)

  27. Wow Tanvi……I’m so impressed that you even made your won bread rolls. I have been to India a couple of times but have never eaten street food! I think I need to make another trip very soon!

  28. Deepa says:

    Loved the clicks of the pav bhaji. Reminded me of my last year’s Mumbai trip.

    Deepa
    Hamaree Rasoi

  29. wow, you made bread too from scratch, cool :)

  30. I would love to try this! The flavours sound amazing!

  31. Tanvi, next time I am in Vegas, I am letting you know and I hope I get an invitation for lunch at your hosue. Everything you make looks to die for and I crave your food even though I have never tasted it. P.S. We go to Vegas once a year…I am just in So. Cal…I just might be serious.

  32. Mmmm! Paav-bhaaji!!! That was a wonderful write-up…I grew up with many great paav-bhaaji stalls, but my friends and family always raved about the Sardaar’s paav-bhaaji place in Mumbai. I’ve never tasted anything like it again…butter seems to be the secret ;)

  33. I found you through Taste Spotting and am so glad to have found your amazing recipe. I have yet to try an Indian meal for fear of messing it up, but this looks so yummy I might just get over that fear!

  34. I always learn some great and delicious Indian recipes here. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your love of family with me :)

  35. Those rolls look soft, moist and airy, I love that texture

  36. First time here and you have a wonderful wonderful space. I simply love it. Following you… BTW, the rolls looks soft and fluffy… feel like grabbing one right away :-)

    -Lavanya
    My recent post: Kaima Idli

  37. Street food in the US is so gross compared to street food from other countries! This looks so delicious!

  38. I make pav bhaji very often, but never tried making the pavs at home. Your recipe sounds simple, I’ll try it soon. Thanks for sharing!

  39. Thanks everyone for all the comment love!
    Neha, Monica, Priya & Laavanya – welcome to the blog! :)

  40. This Bhaji looks and sounds delicious. The breadth of ingredients is stunning and the colours and flavours are truly exceptional. This is an absolute nutrition powerhouse meal!

  41. Definitely trying these rolls this weekend. They look great!

  42. pressing the LOVE button :) Made this last week – except took a short cut with store bought bread! beautiful pictures, my dear!

  43. Everything looks wonderful…especially the bread! :)

  44. what a gorgeous looking pav bhaji… the best part I liked here is that u made the bread / pav from scratch, and that is something which makes the whole thing satisfying. loved the pics too.

  45. This dish looks so gorgeous and tasty! I absolutely love Indian food but I am scared to try making it at home. You just might inspire me to give it a try, thank you for sharing such a treasured recipe.

  46. Really sinful pictures , loved your rolls with dimples :-)
    I prefer to make my pav from scratch too and that makes the pav bhaji so much more enjoyable :-)

  47. Tanvi, your rolls are amazing. The dough in a bowl and round doughs are so cute. It must be so much fun making bread. I wish I have some time to learn baking homemade bread. I really do. Pav Bhaji looks wonderful too. What a great meal. I would be so happy having this….*hint hint*. =)

  48. in sate of shock…will came back after a while :P well the pav you made is excellent Tanvi, i doubt if I can come near it by any chance…..awesome lady!!

  49. Hi Tanvi,
    I’d like to say thank you for your wonderful words left on my guest post on Nami @ Just One Cookbook blog. I really appreciate them.
    Second, I know this is my first time on your blog and i hope you don’t get me wrong, but I have never heard of using self raising flour in a yeast bread. The leavening agents in flour will kill the yeast.

    • Thanks for pointing out Roxana..I did some of the search and you are right.I m new to yeast breads, thanks for the info!

  50. I love Pav Bhaji. thanks for sharing this type of post. This Bhaji looks and sounds delicious. The breadth of ingredients is stunning and the colours and flavours are truly exceptional.

  51. Reblogged this on PreciousSmile☺ and commented:
    wow!! thanks for the recipe … :) looks so delicious n easy to make :)

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