Pav Bhaji recipe – Authentic Mumbai street style
Pav Bhaji recipe – a delicious amalgamation of different healthy vegetables cooked in a unique mixture of spices and mashed, served with two tawa fried pavs soaked in butter. Soft buttery pav and delicious bhaji, pav bhaji is mouth-watering street food.
Growing up in Mumbai, I have been a huge fan of pav bhaji since childhood.
After relocating to Hyderabad, this is one of the street foods I miss. As a passionate cook, I gave it a try in my own kitchen. Though the taste was good, it never matched the memory I had in my head. This led to experimenting after watching videos on YouTube and I have been successful in making the best at home with basic ingredients.
During lockdown time, while at home, had extra time to experiment and master this dish that takes me back to those Mumbai days.
If you want to relish the taste and aroma Chowpatty style at home, try this stovetop Pav Bhaji recipe and I guarantee, it will become one of your favorite recipes! You will not make pav bhaji any other way again.
What is Pav Bhaji?
Pav Bhaji is one of the most popular and favorite street food in Maharashtra, with its origin in Mumbai. Hot bhaji (smooth and thick consistency) with a big dollop of butter melting and spreading in all directions served with lightly toasted soft pavs laden with butter. Well, this is a reason to love it for all age groups. Street food can’t get better than this!
Pav refers to soft buns or bread rolls and Bhaji refers to dry or gravy dish made with vegetables. As both are served together, the name Pav Bhaji. But, when good pav is not available, I even like to have it with sliced bread.
While Maharashtra can proudly claim to be the origin of this much-cherished dish, different regions of India have added their own flavors and varieties to this famous street food. Mumbai’s iconic dish Pav Bhaji has crossed social and geological limits and is presently cherished by individuals all over India.
No matter which place or what time, there is always a queue for this dish. While waiting for the order, the aroma of spices and butter is a real test of patience. But, it is worth the waiting time.
Pav bhaji which started as a ‘street junk food’ has now found its way into some of the Indian restaurants around the world. People are noticing and just can’t get enough of this Indian street dish which is not surprising too. Because pav bhaji has a seductive and spicy flavor that teases and excites the taste buds simultaneously.
Every bite is transportation to culinary heaven. The punch of spices from the bhaji is balanced by the butter on top and the crunch of the onion along with the slight tartness of the lemon when had with pav is a perfect burst of flavors in the mouth. You can relish this dish at any hour of the day, for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even dinner.
About Pav Bhaji recipe
Pav Bhaji recipe is a simple blend of pantry staples like onions, capsicum, tomatoes, green peas, and boiled potatoes with a special pre-made masala powder.
With this pav bhaji recipe, making the classic dish is easier than you think. Making pav bhaji in the way street vendors do is my preferred way. Though there are convenient ways like using a pressure cooker and Instant Pot, the end result does not match the authentic taste. The best part of the pav bhaji recipe is that you do not have to follow an exact recipe in order to cook correctly.
The bhaji (gravy) gets its signature red color from Dry Kashmiri Red chili paste. In this recipe, I have used Kashmiri red chili powder which gives a bright red color to the bhaji. The bhaji is not hot/spicy in spite of the looks.
While making pav bhaji you can use different proportions of vegetables. Skipping or adding a different vegetable will not ruin the dish.
Pav Bhaji recipe is the smartest way to make kids eat healthy vegetables. The common veggies used to make Pav Bhaji are, Potatoes, tomatoes, green peas, capsicum, and onion. You can make it healthier by adding carrots, cauliflower, and beetroot.
Two ways to prepare Pav Bhaji
1. Pressure cooker: Can also call it a One-Pot Pav Bhaji. When short of time, this makes life easy as the process is simple and quick and something special is ready in minutes.
2. Traditional way/Stovetop: My personal choice is the traditional way; use a big tawa to sautee vegetables along with different spices. The advantage of making in tawa is, all the pieces of chopped vegetables touch the tawa and cook well. Also, this process enhances the taste compared to a pressure cooker.
Instead of a big tawa, I use a thick base-wide pan. Making the bhaji on the stovetop might seem like extra work, but believe me, it is worth the effort.
Secret Ingredient in Pav Bhaji
Pav Bhaji masala is the secret or magical ingredient that makes the bhaji taste so delicious. It is a mix of various spice powders with strong flavors.
To make street/restaurant style Pav Bhaji, a good quality pav bhaji masala is a must. There are many brands of masala available in the market. After trying a few brands, some great pav bhaji masala brands I recommend are:
1. Everest pav bhaji masala
2. MDH pav bhaji masala
3. Tata Sampann pav bhaji masala
4. Badshah pav bhaji masala
The reasons to recommend these brands are
1. The unique blend of many great ingredients.
2. Processed with the latest equipment which retains the taste and quality of ingredients.
3. Ingredients are sourced from India’s top farms.
Reasons to try
One of the most loved street food.
Easy to make.
Apt for your special weekend meals (lunch or dinner).
Loved by all age groups.
Satisfies your street food cravings.
I used hybrid tomatoes as they are less sour. If you use local tomatoes, reduce the quantity.
Saute the veggies well as they taste better.
The key to authentic Mumbai-style bhaji is the texture. Vegetables should be mashed well as you cook until little chunky texture.
Butter: One of the key ingredients to complete pav bhaji. Add a generous amount of butter to get the authentic street-side taste. Amul butter makes the bhaji, utterly butterly delicious.
If you are planning to make it ahead of time for a party, get-together, or potluck then you can make the bhaji a day ahead. Let it cool completely and store it in the fridge until serving.
Pav: Traditionally Mumbai laadi pav is used in this recipe. These are made with all-purpose flour.
If laadi pav is not available, you can use bread slices, burger buns, potato rolls, or savory dinner rolls.
Fat: I prefer to use a mix of any neutral-flavored oil and butter.
For that Mumbai Chowpatty taste, use Amul butter. It is easily available in Indian grocery stores.
Vegetables: Traditionally veggies used are onions, potatoes, tomatoes, capsicum, and green peas.
Aromatics: ginger and garlic.
Whole spices: bay leaf and cumin seeds.
Spices: Kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, and pav bhaji masala.
Seasoning & herbs: salt and coriander leaves.
Others: lemon wedges.
How to make Mumbai style Pav Bhaji (step-by-step)
Heat butter and oil in a thick bottom pan. Add bay leaf, jeera (cumin seeds) and let them crackle.
Usually, bay leaf is not added by street vendors but this leaf adds a unique flavor.
Add chopped onion and on medium flame saute till they turn soft.
Next, add chopped capsicum and saute for a min.
Capsicum when stir-fried gives a very nice aroma and infuses flavor into the dish too.
Now, add ginger garlic paste and green peas (I have used frozen) and fry till the raw smell goes away.
Add chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook till soft and mushy. Now, mash the veggies with a potato masher. Add little water if needed and mash well.
Add boiled potatoes and saute for 10 seconds. It will enhance the taste.
Make a space in the center. Turn the flame to low and add butter, Kashmiri red chili powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, pav bhaji masala, coriander leaves, salt, and water. Let it come to a boil and mix well.
When we saute the pav bhaji masala in the butter, they release its fragrance into the air and the flavors of the spices into the butter.
Add more water and mash again.
Cook on low for 10 minutes and adjust the consistency. Taste test for seasoning and spice, if needed add salt and red chilly powder.
Add butter and coriander leaves and mix well.
Turn off the flame.
Serve it hot with butter-toasted laadi pav.
Dish out the bhaji in a serving bowl, top it with a big dollop of butter, and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
Serve it with chopped onions, lemon wedge, and butter-toasted pav/buns.
Usually, I make a large batch so that I have leftovers. A day-old bhaji tastes even better as the flavors get intense.
Let the bhaji cool completely and refrigerate for 2-3 days in an air-tight container.
Reheat before serving, in a microwave or in a pan on the stovetop. The consistency of the bhaji will thicken. So, add water while reheating and adjust the consistency as preferred.
To store it for a longer period, you can freeze it too. Will suggest freezing it in small portions. Cool completely, and transfer to a zip lock bag or freezer bag/freezer-safe airtight container. If you use a bag, squeeze out as much excess air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to 3 – 4 months. To thaw, keep the frozen rice bag/container overnight in the refrigerator.
Jain Pav Bhaji – Jain version is without using potatoes, onions, ginger or garlic. Potato is replaced by Raw banana.
Kathiawar Pav Bhaji – This version makes use of local spices which give it a very unique taste and is usually washed down with a glass of buttermilk.
Khada Pav Bhaji – Kada means whole. This version is the same as regular, the only difference is that the vegetables are not mashed.
Punjabi Pav Bhaji – This version has lots of spices (garam masala) and is served along with a glass of lassi.
Kholapuri Pav Bhaji – Kholapur region is known for eating spicy food. This version uses Kholapuri kanda lasun chutney/masala which makes it spicier.
Paneer Pav Bhaji – Either the paneer is grated on top of the bhaji or bhaji is made along with paneer pieces.
Cheese Pav Bhaji – Cheese is grated on bhaji.
Did you try this Mumbai street style Pav Bhaji recipe? Please leave a star rating and a review in the comment section. I always appreciate your feedback. You can also follow me on Instagram to see what’s latest in my kitchen!
Pav Bhaji – Authentic Mumbai street style
- 3 tbsp Butter (Amul)
- 1 tbsp Oil
- 1 number Bay leaf (optional)
- 1/2 tsp Jeera
- 3 medium-sized Potatoes (Boiled and peeled)
- 1/2 cup Peas (Fresh, Frozen or Dried (soaked and pressure cooked))
- 1/2 Capsicum (finely chopped)
- 1 Onion (finely chopped)
- 3 medium-sized Tomatoes (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp Pav Bhaji masala
- 1-2 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 tsp Red chili powder (adjust as per your taste)
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic paste
- 2 tbsp Coriander leaves
- Salt to taste
- Lemon wedges
- 8 Pavs (slit from center)
- Heat oil & 2 tbspn butter in a wide pan.
- When hot, add bay leaf and jeera. Let it crackle.
- Add finely chopped onion and saute till they turn soft.
- Next, add chopped capsicum and saute for a min.
- Add ginger garlic paste and green peas. Fry till the raw smell goes away.
- Add chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook till soft and mushy. Now, mash the veggies with a potato masher. Add little water if needed and mash well.
- Add boiled potatoes and saute for 10 seconds. Mash again.
- Make a space in the center. Turn the flame to low and add butter, Kashmiri red chili powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, pav bhaji masala, coriander leaves, salt, and water. Let it come to a boil and mix well.
- Add more water and mash again. Cook on low for 10 minutes and adjust the consistency. Taste test for seasoning and spice, if needed add salt and red chilly powder.
- Add butter and coriander leaves and mix well. Turn off the flame.
- Serve it hot with butter-toasted laadi pav.
- Slit the pavs from center.
- Heat a pan or tawa over a medium flame add butter, a pinch of pav bhaji masala, and coriander leaves.
- When the butter melts, place the pav on the butter. Move the pavs all around the tawa so that butter is well absorbed. Spread butter on the top surface.
- Turn the pavs upside down and move all around.
Serving Pav Bhaji
- Take the required quantity of bhaji in a plate or bowl.
- Add a big dollop of butter on top. Add little coriander leaves.
- Serve along with buttery pavs, chopped onion and lemon wedges.
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