Pav Bhaji is an Indian Street Food where spicy mashed veggies curry is paired with dinner rolls/bread rolls. It is served alongside diced onions, chopped cilantro, a good squeeze of lemon and lots of butter!
This recipe has its roots in Mumbai wherein "Pav" means "bread roll" and "Bhaji" means a "Vegetable Dish". This is a super easy dish that you can easily put together for a week night dinner.
Also it is loved by anyone and everyone at a party for its bold and spicy flavors.
You need simple ingredients like aromatics, a handful of veggies of 3-4 kinds and a few spices to bring the bhaji together.
Lets quickly check what you will need to make Bhaji-
- Butter: Butter imparts so much flavor to bhaji. I recommend to be generous with it. 😉 Opt for a good quality butter for best results.
- Aromatics: You will need onions, garlic and ginger to begin with. You can use either red/yellow onions here. We will saute them till golden and add more veggies then.
- Tomatoes: Add lots of fresh chopped tomatoes for a citrus kick. Boost it even more adding just a little tomato paste/puree (store bought).
Acidity from tomatoes balances the sweetness from onions and blends in well with boiled veggies. Also tomato paste adds such a natural red color to bhaji.
- Veggies: You can add in veggies that you love here. Carrots, peas, cauliflower, beans, potatoes, green peppers and even bell peppers. I boil all the veggies except green peppers.
I think if you add finely chopped peppers in the bhaji and let it simmer, it enhances the flavor of the bhaji a ton.
Also add grated beet root and simmer it in the bhaji. You don't need to boil it either. It imparts a beautiful red color to bhaji.
- Spices: You will need Pav Bhaji Masala, turmeric powder and Kashmiri red chili powder to flavor bhaji. All these spices are easily available online as well as in most Indian grocery stores.
- Lemon and Cilantro: Use lots of chopped fresh cilantro and fresh lemon juice for an unbeatable flavors. Don't use juice from bottle.
For Pav (Dinner Rolls):
For Pav you can either make your own Dinner Rolls. Choose eggless Dinner Rolls here. Or you can go for store bought ones.
How to make Bhaji:
Chop Onions, Ginger, Garlic and Tomatoes. Also chop Potatoes, Carrots, Beans and finely chopped green peppers. I like to boil these veggies (except peppers) prior to making the masala/gravy. Or you can boil these alongside cooking onions and tomatoes.
Boil veggies in a pressure cooker. Or you can also soften the veggies in a pan filled with some water, with lid on. Using less water also leads to loss of less nutrients, since you don't need to discard a lot of extra water!
It only takes 5-10 minutes for veggies to get soft in the pan since they are all chopped into small pieces.
Making the Bhaji:
- Step 1. Begin by adding few cumin seeds to butter and allow them to crackle.
- Step 2. Next add in onions, ginger and garlic. Saute them till the onions become translucent and get a nice golden color.
- Step 3. Now add chopped tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes, tossing them in onions.
- Step 4. It is then time to add spices like pav bhaji masala, turmeric, kashmiri red chili powder and salt to taste.
- Step 5. Add in chopped green peppers and tomato paste next. Cover and let the tomatoes get soft for a few minutes.
- Step 6. Open the lid, add boiled and mashed veggies. Also add grated beetroot.
- Step 7. Stir everything together and simmer bhaji, covered for about 15 minutes adding some water.
- Step 8. Using a potato masher, mash the veggies again to bring the bhaji together. Serve bhaji by adding more butter on top.
To Toast Pav:
Toasted pavs go very well with bhaji. You can toast rolls lightly or a little more if you like them crispy. Up to you!
But I'd definitely suggest to sprinkle pav bhaji masala on pavs as you toast them. About a tablespoon for 10-12 pavs would be good.
- Step 1. Heat a tawa/pan/griddle. Add butter on it and sprinkle the masala.
- Step 2. Toast pav on both sides applying more butter and flipping them.
- Step 3. Keep flipping them until they are slightly crispy on both sides and are heated through.
How to make Bhaji naturally red?
- Add beetroots for that perfect natural red color. Don't worry. Just ¼ cup won't make your bhaji sweet.
- Add ripen red tomatoes in the masala. Diced/crushed tomatoes from can impart an excellent orange-red color too.
- Kashmiri red chili powder gives a nice red color to the bhaji without adding too much heat to it, don't skip it!
Quick tips to make perfect Pav Bhaji Every time:
- My number one tip would be to not boil green peppers, Instead chop them small and let them to cook in the onion-tomato masala. Tastes so much better that way and the bhaji gets more appealing texture-wise too.
- Some people believe that if you add only butter to the pan, the butter gets burnt. If you think so too, add around 2 teaspoons of oil in the pan along with butter, I don't. I believe the butter doesn't get burnt, if heated over medium heat.
- Don't add too much water at once: If you add too much water in one go, the bhaji can get runny. This also makes it super tough to mash veggies if bhaji is too watery.
- You can even use 2 teaspoons beetroot powder instead of fresh beet roots. Canned diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes as opposed to fresh tomatoes to save time.
- Adding carrots can make bhaji a slightly sweeter. I suggest adding them in less quantity, so that this sweetness gets wonderfully balanced with the acidity from tomatoes and lemon.
- You can use the veggies of your choice. Instead of cauliflower, broccoli can be added too. I like to skip cauliflower altogether from bhaji sometimes. It still tastes so good!
How to make your own pav bhaji masala?
If you are looking for a pav bhaji masala recipe, try this one instead of a store bought masala.
Roast the following spices slightly over medium heat. Allow them to cool completely. Then blend them together-
-2 Green Cardamoms
-2 Bay Leaves
-1 Black Cardamom
-2 Tablespoons Coriander Seeds
-2 Teaspoons Fennel Seeds
-1 Teaspoon Peppercorns
5 Red Chilies (Dried)
-1 Tablespoon Cumin Seeds
-2 Inch Cinnamon Stick
-1 Star Anise
-½ Tablespoon Dried Mange Powder (Amchoor)
Serving Suggestions and Variations:
Serve warm Pavs with hot Bhaji topped with dallops of butter cubes, chopped onions and fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon.
If you are a cheese lover like I am, top your bhaji with lots of cheese of choice to make it cheese pav bhaji.
Or grate some paneer(Indian cottage cheese) over hot bhaji to give it a protein and flavor boost!
If you feel like getting more creative, make Pav Bhaji Fondue. Make around half a cup of white sauce. Add 1 and a half cup of bhaji to it. Top with lots of cheese. Pour it in a fondue Pot. Top with more cheese and cilantro. Serve alongside toasted pav bites on skewers.
A special blend of spices known as pav bhaji masala is added to an onion-tomato masala based boiled veggies dish. This gives bhaji its unique Mumbai street food taste. It is then served with butter smothered toasted dinner rolls(Pav).
Also the bhaji is topped with lemon juice, fresh cilantro and more butter. When you dunk toasted pav into hot bhaji and bite into it, it tastes like a spicy, tangy, crunchy, hearty and earthy flavored party in your mouth.
Short answer to this question is yes! All the spices and flavors get a chance to develop and meld together better, when kept for a few hours. This fact makes bhaji a perfect make ahead dish too!
If you liked this recipe, give it a star review. Also, tell me in the comments below, how did this turn out for you! And don’t forget to share your creations with me on Instagram at #greedyeatsblog Lets be friends on Pinterest and Facebook too! 🙂
Pav Bhaji Recipe
- 1 Large Pan
- 1 Pot/Pressure Cooker (To boil veggies)
- 2 large Potatoes (Boiled)
- ½ Cup French Beans (Boiled)
- 1-2 medium Carrots (Boiled)
- ½ Cup Peas (Boiled)
- ¼ head of a small Cauliflower (Boiled)
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 1 large Onion (finely chopped)
- 1 inch Ginger (grated)
- 4-5 cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
- 3 Large Tomatoes
- 2 large Green Peppers (finely chopped)
- 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (or ½ cup tomato puree)
- 1 and ½ teaspoons Salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
- 3 Tablespoons Pav Bhaji Masala (or adjust to taste)
- ¼ cup Beet Root
- 1 and ½ cups Water (or as needed to thin out bhaji)
To Toast Pav (Bread Rolls)
- 10-12 Pav
- some Butter (for toasting pavs)
- 1 Tablespoon Pav Bhaji Masala (to season Pav, optional but yum!)
To Serve Pav Bhaji
- 1 medium Red Onion (finely chopped)
- a few Lemon Wedges
- a huge handful of Cilantro (chopped)
- few Butter Cubes (to dunk in hot bhaji)
Pre Prepping the Veggies:
- Chop the veggies- Onions, garlic, tomatoes. Grate Ginger. Also chop carrots, cauliflower and French beans (if using fresh). Peel and chop potatoes. Finely chop green Peppers. Grate beetroot and set it aside.
Boiling the Veggies:
- Soften all the veggies like potatoes, cauliflower, peas, French beans and carrots in a pot covered with lid in some water for 7-10 mins. Alternatively you can pressure cook the veggies and boil them. Allow the veggies to cool down a bit and then mash them using a potato masher.I don't like to boil green pepper, we will chop and cook it in the veggies instead. You can boil green peppers too, if you wish to.Also, you don't need to boil beetroot. Simply grate it over veggies while they are cooking and it will soften there.
Making the Bhaji (Thick Veggie Curry)
- Heat a tablespoon of butter in a large pot/pan. Add cumin seeds and allow them to crackle. Next add in chopped onions and cook for a minute or two over medium-high heat.
- Then add ginger and garlic in too. Give it all a mix and cook till onions become translucent and get a light golden color on them.
- Next add in chopped tomatoes and cook for a minute or two. Then add and mix all the spices. Turmeric powder, kashmiri chili powder, pav bhaji masala and salt to taste.Adding spices at this point allow them to mix better with masala and develop a lot of flavor.
- Now go in chopped green peppers and along with that add tomato paste/puree. Mix everything well and cook them for 5-6 minutes till tomatoes soften and the peppers are almost cooked.
- Stir in boiled veggies and the grated beetroot. Mix them all together and mash the veggies a bit more with potato masher. You can also make use of an immersion blender at this point to kind of make the veggies come together like a puree, I did not.Add around a cup of water to veggies. Mix and cook them covered at low-medium heat for about 15 -20 minutes. Or until the bhaji isn't chunky anymore. Add more water as needed in between and use that masher to bring the bhaji together.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Simmer for a minute or two and serve with a squeeze of lime/lemon juice and chopped cilantro.
Toast the Pav:
- Heat butter on a griddle/tawa/pan. Sprinkle some pav bhaji masala on butter and immediately place pav halves on tawa. Allow them to toast for a minute or so. Apply butter on the other side of pavs and flip them to toast on the other side too. Flip and toast till they get slightly crispy and are heated through.
Serving Pav Bhaji:
- Serve Hot bhaji topped with some chopped onion, chopped cilantro, lemon juice and a few butter cubes along side toasted warm pavs (dinner rolls).
- Green Peppers: I don't boil green peppers with all other veggies. Chop them and cook in onion-tomato masala before adding the boiled veggies. This way bhaji tastes even more flavorful. You can also use 1 green pepper and one red pepper, instead of using 2 green peppers in this recipe.
- Beetroots: Beetroots provide a natural red color to the bhaji. One-fourth cup of beetroots won't make your bhaji sweet! No need to boil them either.
- Carrots and Peas: Some people find carrots and peas make the bhaji sweet. If you are that person, add both these veggies in less quantity. Or avoid them altogether. Add ½ head of cauliflower instead of ¼ head used in this recipe to make up for carrots and peas addition. Also use 1 extra boiled potato and avoid adding carrots and peas.
- Up to 2 teaspoons of Crushed Kasuri Methi can be added along with other spices to the bhaji.
- Always finish the bhaji off with more butter. Butter adds so much flavor here. Don't skimp on it. Add some more while serving too. 😉
- Red Kashmiri Chili Powder: This chili powder adds to the beautiful red color of bhaji. It won't make your dish spicy. If you prefer a spicier bhaji, add 1-2 green chilies. Or add up to 1 teaspoon more of Kashmiri red chili powder.
- Pav Bhaji Masala: It is readily available in every Indian grocery store. MDH, Everest and Badshah are some of the good brands that I like.