Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pav Bhaji--the Indian sloppy joe!

Pav bhaji is a famous Mumbai street food that has become popular all over India and the world.  Mumbaikars have many opinions on the best places to eat pav bhaji in the city, and the best way to make it at home.  Pav means bread, and bhaji means curry, and I tell my non-Indian friends that pav bhaji is the Indian sloppy joe!

There are many amazing Indian home cooks with blogs, and this recipe is my mash up of several recipes.  Check out One Hot Stove, Annaprashana, and of course, Manjula!

We eat this fairly regularly because it is simple and one of Paddy's favorite meals, and we've made it for friends and family all over the continent because the only ingredient you need to get from an Indian grocery store is the masala.  We have been known to travel with our own supply of Pav Bhaji Masala (just in case).

Pav Bhaji
Takes 1 hour
Makes enough for 6 people

3 medium potatoes, chopped into 2 inch pieces
1/2 a large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
2 small carrots, diced
1 green pepper (or other varieties of sweet pepper), chopped
1 Tbsp. pav bhaji masala (I have heard Everest is the best brand, I also have used Shan brand and MDH)
1 green chile
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. salt 
1/2 cup peas, frozen works great

6+ buns, I like to get the small ones that are stuck together
1 onion, diced
2 limes, quartered
1 green chile, minced (if you like it hot!)
bunch of cilantro, chopped

Add the potatoes and cauliflower to a large pot of salted, cold water, bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, saute the garlic and ginger on medium high heat.  When they began to brown, add the carrots and peppers.  When they began to brown, add the pav bhaji masala and saute for a minute or so, until it gets really fragrant.  Add the tomatoes and green chile, and cook until it gets very thick.  

Eventually the oil will come to the surface, this will take about 10 minutes.

While this is happening, keep checking on the potatoes and cauliflower.  They are done when you stick a knife in a potato and a cauliflower and they slide right off.  Drain, reserving about 2 cups of the water.

Add the drained potatoes and cauliflower to the tomato pot.  Stir and mash adding water as necessary.  Check for spice and add salt and more masala as necessary.  Turn the heat down very low, put the lid on, and let the flavors blend together for 15 to 20 minutes.  If you are not going to eat the Pav Bhajis until later in the day, turn the heat off and let the covered Bhaji sit until you are ready to eat--then just reheat.  Add the peas for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

To serve, heat a griddle or saute pan and toast the buns, with butter if you like.  Top the buns with the bhaji.  Sprinkle with onions, cilantro, chopped green chiles if you are brave!  Top with a squeeze of lime juice.



  1. Looks beautiful and delicious!

  2. Mmm I love this! You've made it for us, and now I'm going to try it myself!