Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mumbai Pav Bhaji – recipe from the back of a box

Even though I had traveled quite a bit while living in India, I had never been to Bombay (that is what it was called when I was still living in India).  I had heard so much about the place - the shopping, the beaches, the food, the people.

On one of our trips to India a while back, we decided to visit my husband’s uncle and aunt (mama and mami).  They have lived in Mumbai forever and had been inviting us to spend time with them – and we decided to take them up on their offer.  

It was a fantastic trip! We had a great time with mama and mami.  He is my husband’s youngest mama and they get along great.  Both my husband and his mama have similar personalities and also have the knack of annoying their wives with very little effort :)

Mama and mami took us around Mumbai and showed us the sights.  We saw the Gateway of India, the Taj Palace Hotel, Marine Drive, Juhu, Versova Beach (my husband insisted on visiting this to see where numerous smuggling scenes have been shot in Hindi movies) and various other attractions.  We even took a ferry ride on the Arabian Sea!  It was a fantastic trip!

Before we left on this trip to India, my friend Swati - who was born and brought up in Mumbai, gave us some tips on things that we have to do and food to try.  On her list were vada pav, dabeli, and Mumbai pav bhaji.

Though mama and mami were a bit apprehensive about letting us try street food on the street, mainly because they didn’t want us to fall sick, we managed to sample some authentic Mumbai street food! 
We had pav bhaji in a decent food stall and vada pav from a street side shop near their house.  I loved the food so much that I decided to pick up some masalas to bring back with me.  One of those was called Mumbai Pav Bhaji Masala (I think it was Everest brand).

When I came back here, I used this masala to make Pav Bhaji.  It came out great!  I just followed the recipe on the back of the box.  We get Mumbai Pav Bhaji Masala in our Indian store now (Badshah brand). I have made this several times and each time, it has been a hit. 

Other than some very slight modifications, I follow the recipe on the back of the box.  I use oil to sauté the onions first and then add butter later in the recipe.  I also don’t add garam masala.  I use veggies I have on hand and tend to use more cauliflower than potatoes.  I don’t grind the veggies, but mash them up with a potato masher.


Here is what you need:

  • 3 - 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced  (you can add cabbage, peas or other vegetables of your choice)
  • 4 tsp. oil
  • ½ tsp. hing
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger garlic paste
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 – 6 green chilies, diced
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 3 – 4 cloves
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. Mumbai Pav Bhaji Masala
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • 2 tsp. coriander powder
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. amchur powder
  • 3 Tbsp. butter

Here is how I made it:

  1. Boil the potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower (or any other vegetable you are using)
  2. Peel the potatoes.  Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a big pot.  Add hing and after a minute add onions.  Sauté for a few minutes till they turn translucent.  Add the ginger garlic paste.  Mix well.
  4. Now add green bell peppers.  Sauté for a few more minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, green chilies, cumin seeds, cloves, pav bhaji masala, salt, red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and amchur powder. Mix well.
  6. Let this cook for a few minutes till the tomatoes become mushy and all the masalas have blended well.
  7. Now add the butter.  After it melts, add the boiled veggies and potatoes (kind of mash up the potatoes while you are adding it to the pot).
  8. Mix everything together.  Take a potato masher and mash up the veggies.  Taste and adjust seasoning – adding more pav bhaji masala and salt if necessary.
  9. Turn off the heat after about 10 minutes.

To serve
  • pav buns
  • butter
  • finely chopped onions
  • chopped cilantro
  • lime/lemon wedges 
  1. Heat a tawa.  Melt some butter on it and toast the pav buns so that they turn golden brown on both sides.
  2. Put these on a plate with a generous ladle full of bhaji (vegetable), garnished with onions, cilantro, and lime/lemon wedges.
  3. Enjoy


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