Mumbai Tawa Pulao recipe | Tawa Pulao recipe
Mumbai Tawa Pulao, is one of the iconic Indian street foods in Mumbai. It is a distinctive pulao, made of cooked basmati rice and vegetables sauteed in a masala that has a secret ingredient.
Growing up in Mumbai, the city of dreams has a wide variety of street food. I had the good fortune of enjoying Mumbaiya tawa pulao at many stalls on the roadside and at the Juhu Chowpatty beach. The aroma makes anyone’s mouth water instantly. With each bite, the flavors give a delightful experience and the taste lingers in the mouth for a long.
The advantage of eating at a street cart is you can see the making process. I picked up the cooking process by watching the vendors add heaps of butter, vegetables, spices, and mixing cooked rice on a large-sized tawa. I tried a few times at home but was unable to replicate the taste.
After watching a few videos on Youtube, I got to know about the secret spice used to make Mumbai tawa pulao. I tried it immediately and everyone in the family loved it. This tried and tested recipe never failed me to satisfy my cravings for street tawa pulao and transports me to Mumbai.
What is Tawa Pulao?
Tawa pulao is a popular and scrumptious rice dish from the street foods of Mumbai. It is a spiced vegetarian rice dish made by stir-frying cooked rice and selected veggies on a large flat griddle.
The reason this rice dish is called tawa pulao is that it is prepared on tawa – a thick flat concave-shaped pan common in Indian cooking. The same tawa is also used to make pav bhaji.
This yummy rice variety is believed to be originated on the streets of Bombay (now Mumbai). So, it is also called Mumbai Tawa Pulao.
It is also called Pav Bhaji Pulao as the vegetables and spices are the same used to make pav bhaji. The addition of rice adds the name pulao.
The dish can be commonly seen at all local pav bhaji restaurants and street food carts outside railway stations, at the beach, and all over corporate parks and markets in Mumbai.
About Mumbai Tawa Pulao recipe
Mumbai Tawa Pulao recipe is slightly different compared to the traditional vegetable pulao we make at home. I’m sure your question will be, what makes this pulao special? It’s the cooking technique and special spice, pav bhaji masala.
This pulao follows an unconventional method of street style which is similar to the Indian fried rice recipe. There are two versions of Mumbai-style Tawa Pulao;
1. Mix a little pav bhaji gravy along with rice and roughly chopped vegetables.
2. Tawa pulao with just pav bhaji masala.
I’m sharing the Tawa Pulao recipe with just pav bhaji masala. It is super simple as there is no need for pav bhaji gravy.
It is made with basmati rice and vegetables sauteed with copious amounts of butter, pav bhaji masala, a few basic Indian spices, and herbs. The rice dish is finished with a squeeze of lemon and coriander leaves.
The tawa used at kiosks is huge as the streetside vendors make pulao in heaps. At home, I use a heavy bottom frying pan, kadhai, or a nonstick pan.
The unique flavor of Pav bhaji masala is the secret behind this delicacy. If you have leftover rice, tawa pulao gets ready in under 10 minutes.
A peculiarity among tawa pulao stalls across Mumbai is that almost all of them use basmati rice and pav bhaji masala.
For an authentic taste, I used long grain rice for this recipe. If you do not have long grain rice, you can use short grain rice.
This Mumbai Tawa Pulao recipe is a great way to use leftover rice. Moreover, you can add different vegetables to make it colorful which will attract kids.
Reasons to make
A quick rice dish compared to veg pulao and biryani.
Involves no blending or grinding.
A mix of everything spicy, tangy, and chatpata flavors tingle the taste buds.
The combination of rice and vegetables makes the dish filling and wholesome.
Veggies and rice seasoned with pav bhaji masala is a double treat.
Super flavorful Vegetarian dish is great for kids’ or adults’ lunchboxes.
Perfect for a weekend brunch.
The different colors make the dish ultra vibrant.
One of the best recipes to use leftover rice.
Will be a crowd pleaser at parties, get-togethers, and potlucks.
The fuss-free recipe is a quick fix for rice cravings.
Use good quality basmati rice.
The rice grains should be long and non-sticky. I have shared tips on how to cook basmati perfectly. Please check it out.
Do not use hot rice. The moisture will break the grains while mixing and turn the pulao to khichdi.
If you are making fresh rice, will recommend cooking the rice a few hours before, cooling the rice, and refrigerating it. Usually, I make the rice a day before and refrigerate it.
Make sure to use cold rice, the dryer the better so that they retain shape.
Do not skip butter for the authentic taste: Adding butter amplifies the flavor, and aroma of tawa pulao, and makes the dish taste uber delicious. The end result is a street-style buttery pulao that does not dry out at all.
For a vegan tawa pulao, simply use vegan butter or omit it.
Ensure to make it at a high flame to retain the crunch of vegetables. Cooking on a low flame will make the vegetables sweat and turn them soft.
Before adding cooked rice, make sure the tawa bhaji masala has enough moisture. It will mix well with the rice and also heat the rice grains evenly.
Be careful while adding salt. Butter, pav bhaji masala, and rice already have salt in them. Add salt just enough for the vegetables.
Tawa Pulao needs minimal ingredients that are easily available in the Indian pantry.
Rice: Basmati Rice or Long Gran rice as it is less starchy and sticky. I use Daawat Biryani Basmati Rice for many reasons – aged to perfection, world’s longest grains, natural aroma, and great taste.
Fat: Butter and Oil. Adding oil will prevent the butter from burning.
Aromatics: Cumin seeds and ginger-garlic paste.
For the base: Onion and Tomato. Try to use Bangalore or Roma tomato which is less sour than local tomato.
Vegetables: Boiled potato (use Russet Potatoes), capsicum, and green peas (fresh or frozen). You can substitute fresh vegetables with store-bought frozen.
At home, can add a variety of vegetables to make it more nutritious. The options are – cabbage, cauliflower, beans, sweet corn, carrot, or red and yellow bell peppers.
Boil or steam the hard vegetables.
Spice powders: Pav bhaji masala, coriander powder, and garam masala.
Pav Bhaji is the secret ingredient in this dish. It is a spice mix of many Indian spices. It has enough heat to make the pulao spicy. I prefer to use Everest brand pav bhaji masala.
Street vendors add red color and pav bhaji restaurants add red chilly paste for color. I have substituted it with kashmiri red chili powder as it gives a vibrant red color and does not add spice. To make tawa pulao spicy, you can add red chili powder or some finely chopped green chilies while sauteing the onion.
Lemon: The acidic nature of lemon juice helps to neutralize the spice. But, if the tomatoes are sour, skip the lemon juice.
Herbs & Seasoning: Salt and coriander leaves.
How to make Mumbai Street style Tawa Pulao
Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium flame.
Add cumin seeds and let them crackle.
Add chopped onion and green capsicum. Saute until the onions turn transparent. Do not brown the onions.
Add boiled potatoes and green peas.
Saute for 30 seconds.
Add ginger-garlic paste and saute until the raw smell goes away.
Add chopped tomatoes and saute for 10 seconds.
Add 1/4 th cup of water.
Add Kashmiri red chili powder, pav bhaji masala, and salt. Give a good mix.
Add cooked rice and coriander leaves. Mix gently.
Continue to cook until the rice is evenly hot or you hear a sizzling sound. Keep stirring gently in between.
Switch off the flame, squeeze half a lemon and add coriander leaves. Give a good mix.
Mumbai Tawa Pulao is ready. Serve hot with raita or your choice of side dish.
This spiced Mumbai tawa pulao is best served with raita and papad to make it a complete meal. If you do not have any diet restrictions, add a dollop of butter on top.
Raita, an Indian condiment made of Curd/Yogurt has many variations. One of my favorites is to add chopped onions, green chilies, and coriander leaves to the whisked curd and flavor with roasted cumin powder, black salt, and salt to taste.
Tawa Pulao tastes the best when consumed hot. I will not recommend refrigerating as the vegetables will get soft. However, if there is leftover, you can refrigerate for 1-2 days and reheat before serving.
Add Protein: Paneer or tofu cubes. Can add soya chunks, soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes and squeeze them.
You can mash (using a potato masher) a part of bhaji masala to get the pav bhaji texture.
Can add a pinch of coriander powder, cumin/jeera powder, and garam masala to make it masaledar.
More Rice recipes to try
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Mumbai Tawa Pulao recipe | Tawa Pulao recipe
- 3 cups Cooked Basmati Rice (1 cup raw rice gives 3 cups cooked rice)
- 2-3 tbsp Butter
- 1 tsp Oil
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 small Onion (chopped)
- 1 cup Vegetables (boiled potatoes, capsicum, green peas)
- 1 tsp Ginger-garlic paste (homemade or store-bought)
- 2 medium Tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1/2 tbsp Kashmiri Red chili powder
- 1/2-1 tbsp Pav Bhaji masala
- Salt to taste
- Coriander leaves
- 1/2 Lemon
- Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium flame.
- Add cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add chopped onion and green capsicum and saute until onions turn transparent.
- Add boiled potatoes and green peas. Saute for 30 seconds.
- Add ginger-garlic paste and saute until the raw smell goes away.
- Add chopped tomatoes and saute for 10 seconds. Add 1/4 th cup of water.
- Add Kashmiri red chili powder, pav bhaji masala, and salt. Give a good mix.
- Add cooked rice and coriander leaves. Mix gently.
- Continue to cook until the rice is evenly hot or you hear a sizzling sound. Keep stirring gently in between.
- Switch off the flame, squeeze half a lemon and add coriander leaves. Give a good mix.
- Mumbai Tawa Pulao is ready. Serve hot with raita or your choice of side dish.