Mama Sheladia’s Pav Bhaji

On Monday I had a small get together at my place for Diwali. My friend mentioned making pav bhaji since it’s a quick easy dish that can feed many. Pav bhaji is a street food in India and is popular in Mumbai and Gujarat. I typically explain this dish as an Indian version of a sloppy joe; however, the literal meaning is bread (‘pav’) vegetables ‘(bhaji’). My mom makes the BEST pav bhaji ever, I attempted making it a few months ago and failed miserably–my husband didn’t even touch it and he will eat anything. This time I got the recipe from my mom and wrote it down. This recipe is perfect for newbies who want to learn how to cook Indian food. There aren’t too many spices and the majority of ingredients you can get from your local grocery store.  This recipe is mostly stirring stuff together- nothing too complicated. The only thing is I highly recommend using a pressure cooker, I tried to steam the vegetables once and the consistency did not turn out right.

Cook time: 1 hour                                                             Serves: 10-12 people

1 medium eggplant, cubed
1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
5 tomatoes, pureed
1/2 large red onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp ginger, minced (optional)
3 tsp red pepper powder (or to your taste)
1/2 tbsp mustard seed
1/2 tbsp cumin seed
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter (optional)
6 tbsp Pav Bhaji Masala (I used Badshah)
1/2 cup peas (I used frozen)
chopped cilantro (optional)
hamburger buns

1. Add the cubed eggplant, cauliflower, potatoes, and carrots to a large pressure cooker with 1 cup of water.  Add about 1/2 tbsp of salt and mix. Put this on medium high heat for about 20 minutes, or 3 whistles worth.

2. In a large saucepan, heat up your oil. Once the oil is hot add the cumin and mustard seeds. Once they start popping add the onions and stir. Bring the stove down to medium-low and add the garlic and ginger. Stir this around for about 1-2 minutes, or until it’s fragrant.  Add the red pepper powder and stir for another minute. Now add your Pav Bhaji Masala and stir. It’ll create a pasty like mixture- but make sure to continue stirring so the spices don’t burn. You’ll start smelling all the spices heating up and your house will officially start smelling like India at this point.  Add the tomato puree and stir. Cover and let this simmer for about 15 minutes or until the oil starts separating from the tomato mixture.

3. Now take your cooked vegetables from the pressure cooker and add it to the tomato mixture in the large saucepan. I used a giant wooden spoon to smash all the vegetables down into a mush. Add your frozen peas now and stir well. Add salt to taste. Let this simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Add the butter and mix.

4. Spread butter onto your hamburger buns and toast. Just make a small sandwich with the bhaji and top with cilantro if you’d like. Enjoy!


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