Happy 2019 all! I know you might be thinking, is she waking up now to wish everyone when half of the January is gone? Umm, yeah, I am a little late here partly because I was redesigning my website and also, I am house hunting. Yes, I am on the move again but changing houses this time. While all that craziness is happening, cooking and eating good food is the only thing that’s giving me some comfort at this point of time. So, I just made one of my home country’s favourite street food – Pav Bhaji.
For people outside of India, its simply a vegetable mash seasoned with a specific Indian spice blend served warm with toasted bread rolls. Out of curiosity, I dug into the history of this recipe. According to Wikipedia, some genius back in 1800s came up with this idea of creating this one pot wonder in Mumbai to feed some hungry souls.
So, this was one of the earliest fast food dishes of India! It became so famous that even today it has retained its popularity and it can be found at nearly every food joint in India. This huge popularity created many variations of this recipe too.
My first taste of this recipe, don’t worry it wasn’t in 1800s lolss, neither in Mumbai but in my hometown in Gwalior. Mum also sometimes used to make it at home especially during winters. Winter is the best time at least in the central part of India when all the markets are brimming with fresh vibrant produce. After I left India finding the same taste of street food was nearly impossible, so, the only option was to make something at home. In my early days of cooking when I was building up my spice cupboard, I was lucky enough to find some Indian grocers in England. And now its time to do the same in Netherlands!
Let’s talk about this recipe. My base recipe is very similar to my mum’s that uses a combination of vegetables. I also took this idea of soaking dried chillies from Tarla Dalal’s website. Because of this chilli paste, this curry has a beautiful colour and just the right amount of heat. The spice blend that’s used in this recipe popularly known as ‘Pav Bhaji Masala’ can be easily sourced from any Indian grocer or you can also make one for yourself by using this recipe. What I love about this recipe, is it’s preparation is purely plant based, it’s gluten and dairy free, no expensive substitutes and yet so delicious!
Preparation time: 20-25 minutes
Cooking time: 60-70 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Makes: 3-4 generous servings
1 cup=250 ml, 1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml
6 large florets or ½ of cauliflower, approx. 500 grams, roughly chopped
½ of white cabbage, approx. 350 grams, roughly chopped
4 small carrots with greens, cut into discs and tough stalks removed from the greens
6 small potatoes, approx. 350 grams, cut into quarters
1 small red beetroot, grated
1 green pepper, approx. 167 grams, cut into small cubes
1 cup, garden peas
4 tablespoons, rapeseed or any cooking oil
2 whole Kashmiri dry red chillies, deseeded
1 large or 2 medium brown onions, approx. 173 grams, finely chopped
7 cloves of garlic, approx. 38 grams
3 plum tomatoes, approx. 306 grams, pureed
4 teaspoons, pav bhaji masala
½ teaspoon paprika
Salt to taste
3 cups of hot water + ½ cup for soaking red chillies
Fresh coriander, chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Few cubes of butter to add on the top
a 5-litre saucepan with a lid
Soak the red chilli in hot water for a minute or two until it softens.
Heat oil in the pan and once hot, add the onion, reduce the heat to medium high and fry until they are slightly browned.
Puree the garlic and soaked red chilli along with the soaking water.
Once the onions are browned, add the pureed chilli and garlic paste and cook further for a few minutes, approx. 5.
Add the pureed tomatoes and cook the puree until it loses all its water and it looks like a concentrated tomato paste.
Add pav bhaji masala and paprika and sauté for another minute.
Add all the veggies except green pepper and peas.
Mix everything, add 3 cups of hot water, season with salt and put the lid on. Let the mixture cook until the veggies are soft and mushy.
Slightly mash the veggies with the back of the ladle and then add the green peppers and peas.
Let it cook for another 5 minutes on medium heat with the lid on.
Take off the heat and check for seasoning.
Serve hot with toasted bread rolls of your choice and with all the garnishes.
HINTS & TIPS
Pav bhaji masala is a special spice blend that can be easily found at any Asian grocer. Don’t be tempted to use curry powder or garam masala in this recipe as it won’t give the same taste to the bhaji.
I also add kale and cavolo nero to the bhaji at times.
I have not tried freezing it as it doesn’t last long in my house. But, it can easily stay in the fridge for 3-4 days.