Mumbai – my home-town, a city that never sleeps; and a city that loves eating, come rain or shine. At any point of time, thousands of people crowd at little restaurants and roadside stalls to tuck into spicy Chaat+ Paani Puri, Crispy Dosas, creamy fruit-flavored Kulfis and above all, Pav Bhaji.
Pav Bhaji is a spicy vegetable stew that you sop up with pillowy bread. In Mumbai, you usually see the Pav Bhaji Vendor at the door of the restaurant with a huge cast-iron pan in front of him. He is surrounded by bowls of chopped veggies and several packets of butter. He will then start sauteeing the veggies together with boiled potatoes, spices and enormous dollops of butter and mash the whole mixture into a sizzling vegetable dish. He will then serve this Bhaji with rolls of bread called Pav that have been likewise drowned in butter. The final touch: the dish is topped with raw onion slices and lemon wedges.
I made Pav Bhaji at home recently with “Pav Bhaji Masala”, which is available from any Asian Grocery Store. You don’t have to go to “Mumbai” to have this now, try it at home, courtesy “Bring On The Chef In You”.
6 Pavs (bread), 4 medium potatoes boiled and grated, 4 medium tomatoes finely chopped, 1 medium green capsicum, chopped, ¼ cup green peas boiled, ¼ small cauliflower cut into very tiny florets, 3 tablespoons oil, 3 medium onions chopped, 3-4 green chillies finely chopped, 2 teaspoons ginger paste, 2 teaspoons garlic paste, 1.5 tablespoons Pav Bhaji Masala, salt to taste, 3-4 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves, 1 big lemon.
Heat oil in a pan, add 3/4th of the onions and sauté till light brown. Add the green chillies, ginger paste and garlic paste. Stir fry for sometime. And half the tomato and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously till the oil separates. Add the capsicums, peas, cauliflower, potatoes and one and half cups of water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, mashing the vegetables with the back of the ladle. Add the Pav Bhaji Masala, salt and the remaining tomatoes. Cook over medium heat for two minutes. Heat half the butter in a thick bottomed pan or tawa . Split the Pav horizontally into two and fry in butter, till the pav is crisp and brown. Brush a little butter on the top side of the bread..not needed to fry both sides of the bread. Garnish the Bhaji with coriander leaves and remaining butter, and the remaining onions and sprinkle lemon juice all over the Bhaji. Serve piping hot.