Pav Bhaji: The Complete Street Food
From the flavourful sev puri to the fiery vada pav, Mumbai is home to many Indian street food classics. While some of these started off as a snack, many street food items in Mumbai were born out of necessity. One such dish is the pav bhaji. This delicious combination was invented as a quick meal for the mill workers of Mumbai. Bhaji, a mixture of mashed vegetables, made by street food vendors, with the leftover vegetables from the day, mashed up together, with loads of spices, and butter served with pav, or leavened bread, generously coated in butter. It is garnished with onions, lemon slivers and another generous dollop of butter. As simple and easy as it sounds, it is equally irresistible and delicious too.
The signature texture and colour of pav bhaji comes from its ingredients and spices that are used in its preparation. While vegetables such as onions, potatoes and tomatoes stay a constant, many others including cauliflower, carrots, peas, beans, capsicum and other seasonal vegetables are added as per the cook’s preference. Some of these vegetables are boiled and mashed before being cooked in butter, this creates the iconic texture of the bhaji. The striking red colour is a result of chilli powder and tomatoes which are an integral part of this dish.
Many spices contribute to the legendary taste of this dish. The pav bhaji masala has now become well-known all over the world due to its irresistible taste and alluring aroma. Pav bhaji masala consists of red chillies, cloves, fennel seeds, pepper, cumin seeds, cinnamon, black salt and many other spices blended together in carefully measured proportions. Though restaurants have their own secret formulas, home chefs can make restaurant-like pav bhaji by using a ready-made masala which is easily available in the market. For those who seek a healthier version of the dish or are on a non-potato diet, the potatoes can even be substituted with soya granules, suran (elephant’s foot) or pumpkin. To achieve an authentic taste at home, use Tata Sampann’s Pav Bhaji masala which has been specially formulated by Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. The chef’s signature recipe along with naturally rich spices guarantee a lip-smacking Pav Bhaji, every time.
Since its street side invention, pav bhaji is now a world famous dish and a staple in many Indian households. This single dish is a complete meal that can be made easily. Due to its well-deserved fame and recognition, there are now many versions of this dish available in restaurants. These versions range from simple variations like khada bhaji (where the vegetables are not mashed) to gourmet makeovers. It is not unusual to see a fusion dish such as a pav bhaji fondue on the menu of many upscale restaurants in Mumbai. Over the years, additions like cheese and mushrooms to the age-old recipe have kept this dish fresh in the minds of people. In fact, even the pav bhaji dosa is an inventive and delicious affair.
Easy to prepare, especially with a ready-made pav bhaji masala in your arsenal, this is a dish that can be made at home even by the most amateur cook. Making pav bhaji at home gives you the freedom of altering ingredients, reducing the butter content or even making a vegan version of this dish. Just add Pav Bhaji masala to your grocery list to begin your culinary adventures.