Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mumbai Pav Bhaji

Pav Bhaji is a hodgepodge, often snubbed as the butter laden, unhealthy food, but still you can't ignore the wonderful aroma and delicious taste. Pav Bhaji which is one of the culinary delights from Mumbai, is like the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai itself - A hodgepodge of people from different communities, snubbed as "overcrowded, polluted & costly" but in my opinion, still the beautiful city to live.

Whether you like your pav bhaji from Shiv saagar, Cannon, Gokul, Sardar or just any street side vendor, I feel it's almost an impossible task to replicate the restaurant pavbhaji at home. The color, texture, taste seem different when made at home. Homemade pavbhaji tastes good- no doubt, but restaurant pav bhaji always scores some extra points.

Without making any claim that this is just like restaurant pav bhaji, I am sharing with you, my own attempt of making pav bhaji at home -

Mumbai Pav Bhaji (serves 8 - 12)
Pressure cook -
6 potatoes
1/2 cup green peas
1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
2 carrots, peeled

Soak for 4 hours
7 - 9 kashmiri chilies
1 cup water (or more as necessary)

Grind to fine paste
10 - 12 cloves of garlic
2" ginger
drained kashmiri chilies from above
2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2 fresh mint leaves

2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp Amul butter (more or less depending on your taste)

You will also need,
1/2 cup green peas (frozen ok)
4-5 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp pav bhaji Masala (I prefer Badshah brand)
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)

2 lemons, cut into wedges
1 red onion, chopped finely
1 tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped
A pinch of chaat masala

To serve
1 - 2 tbsp Amul butter
Pav or dinner rolls as needed, slit

1. Pressure cook vegetables. Peel potatoes. Mash the vegetables and set aside.
2. Heat oil and Amul butter.
3. Add red chili-ginger-garlic paste. Add tomatoes. Saute for 11 minutes on a low flame.
4. Add pav bhaji masala. Saute for another 5 minutes.
5. Add mashed vegetables and 2 cups water. Bring to boil.
6. Add salt to taste, sugar. Mix well
7. Stir in whole green peas. Let it simmer.
8. Switch off the gas. Cover and set aside.

To Serve per person-
1. Heat a deep dish tawa or frying pan. Add 1 tsp Amul butter. Add about 1/2 cup - 1 cup bhaji. Saute for a few minutes till hot.
2. Immediately, pour the hot bhaji in a serving plate.
3. Pour a dab of butter. It should melt immediately.
4. Now, in the same frying pan, add butter again. Add slit pavs and rub them on the pan so the insides of pav get covered with butter as well as bits from bhaji.
5. Let the pav become brownish (& soaked with butter, for the real taste!!) :-D
6. Place next to bhaji in the plate.
7. Sprinkle bhaji with cut onions, cilantro, chat masala. Squeeze lemon generously. Enjoy!!

Notes -
1. Every person from my family and friend circle has their own version of making pav bhaji. My friend, always adds some tamarind pulp to the bhaji.

2. After making pav bhaji, my aunt adds an additional tadka/tempering of minced garlic in butter for that additional zing.

3. Another friend makes a paste of garlic-ginger-green chilies-cilantro instead of my kashmiri red chilies paste.

4. Kashmiri chilies are used for their wonderful red color and mild flavor. I do not know how other dry chilies do. Vinegar and salt are used to retain that beautiful color.
5. You get various flavors in pav bhaji at restaurants. They are as below -
paneer pavbhaji - grated/crumbled paneer or deep fried paneer pieces based on the restaurant
cheese pavbhaji - grated Amul cheese for garnish
khada pavbhaji - the boiled vegetables are not mashed to mush but they retain their shapes
jain pavbhaji - pav bhaji is made without garlic, onion, potatoes. My version is here.
Mushroom Pavbhaji - Minced Mushroom is added along with onion and bell pepper.
6. If you want, you can also add chopped onion and bell peppers/capsicums before adding the kashmiri chili paste.
7. Recently, I enjoyed the most delicious, virtual pav-bhaji on my birthday. Check it out here at Purnima's fantasy Cooking.


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