Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Nupur's Pav Bhaji

If you could see me now, as in right now, you would see my head hanging down in shame, my eyes looking down to my feet, which is not exactly the most pleasant sight on earth, but better than the boring beige carpet.

For one, I am ashamed that I am a sorry human momma who is doing nothing for the oil slick pelican momma in Louisiana.

I am Sorry.

For second, this one is not as grave as the first but still I should be ashamed that I did not make India's famous street food Pav Bhaji at home until day before yesterday.

In the time and era which I grew up, Pav Bhaji was not heard of where we lived. Even if some third removed Mumbaikar cousin ever mentioned it, the adults dismissed it as "Pauruti-Tarkari" and no one showed any further interest.

Much later when I lived in Bombay, now Mumbai on my new found independence for a very short time, I was introduced to Vada Pav and Pav Bhaji.

I thought Pav Bhaji was healthy, wholesome and NOT deep fried. I therefore chose to live on the deep fried goodness of Vada Pav, saying a polite No to Pav Bhaji.

Still later in a narrow littered street in the US, lined with stores named "Payal" , "Shalimar" and "Udipi Bhavan", I had Pav Bhaji in a small chaat place.

This time I chose Pav Bhaji because I thought Pav Bhaji was healthy, wholesome and NOT deep fried. I loved it enough to go back several times to have just Pav Bhaji with nary a glance towards the shammi kabab on the husband's plate.

I loved the buttery soft pav, the spicy bhaji with red onions, the pat of guilt butter. But never did I want to make Pav Bhaji at home, because I thought it was too much work. I thought you needed to chop at least ten vegetables and if I would/could chop ten vegetables for one single mashed up dish, even if it is India's most famous street food, I would...well...not be me.

I would buy a packet of Pav Bhaji Masala once in a while though, it felt like the right thing to do. This version of Pav Bhaji Masala in the pantry has been sitting there for the last six months now. It would have led a still longer, cozy, comfortable and relaxed life on the second row of the middle shelf if not for Nupur's Blog Bite #4.

So I took the Pav Bhaji Masala which by the way was Badshah and not the recommended Everest and declared that it better get to work and that in this hard time, its serene life was over. It would have to prove its worth in none other than Nupur's Pav Bhaji, who is a MarathiMaharashtrian and the recipe is her Aunt's who too is a MarathiMaharashtrian and the Pav Bhaji is Maharashtra's national dish, so it does not get more authentic than this.

Did I say, I loved the fact that Nupur did not use 10 different vegetables. Hallelujah.

The Pav Bhaji turned out to be an easy dish to make. It was pretty good given that I do not have much of a benchmark to compare. Like I have not had Sukh Sagar Pav Bhaji only backstreet US Pav Bhaji. Here I would also insist that if Nupur asks to use the Everest Pav Bhaji Masala, there is a reason she does that and so the Badshah (the one I had) will not deliver the same result.

I am going to make this next using Everest and I am sure that will give Sukh Sagar a run for its money. I am also going to get some of that soft Pav and indulge. I am going to take a vacation all by myself in Corfu, because I love Gerald Durrell and it will be very cheap. I am also going to fire everyone in BP.

For now I will send this to BB4:What's Lurking in the Kitchen ?


Original Recipe

Nupur's Pav Bhaji

Pressure cook half head of a cauliflower and 2 peeled and cubed potatoes till tender and set aside.

Heat 2tbsp oil in a deep saucepan and saute the 1 chopped green bell pepper chopped till it starts browning on the edges.

Add 1/2 tsp of ginger paste, 1/2 tsp of garlic paste and saute some more.

Add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2-1 tsp of chili powder to taste and salt to taste. Saute for a couple of minutes.

Add 2-3 cups of tomato puree. I added 3 whole peeled and canned tomatoes along with their juice.

Next add 1/2 cup peas, boiled potatoes and cauliflower, 1 tbsp or more Everest pav bhaji masala and 1 tbsp butter.

Keep frying and mashing it together till it is a smooth mixture, adding water as required (you can use a potato masher to help you along). Simmer for 20-25 minutes to really get the flavors to meld together. I also added a little sugar because my tomatoes were really tangy

Nupur says "You have to keep tasting and adjusting salt, masala and tomato till you like the balance between the tomato-ey tang and the heat of the masala. " -- This is important

Garnish with chopped red onion, chopped corriander, a wedge of lime and a pat of butter. Serve with buttered pav.

Trivia: The origin of Pav Bhaji is traced to the heyday of the textile mills in Mumbai. The mill workers used to have lunch breaks too short for a full meal, and a light lunch was preferred to a heavy one, as the employees had to return to physical labor after lunch. A vendor created this dish using items or parts of other dishes available on the menu. Roti or rice was replaced with pav and the curries that usually go with Indian bread or rice were amalgamated into just one spicy concoction-the 'bhaji'. Initially, it remained the food of the mill-workers. With time the dish found its way into restaurants and spread over Central Mumbai and other parts of the city via the Udipi restaurants


  1. amra khub pav bhaji khai barite banie. mainly everest er pacet e lekha recipe tai try korechi. eta ektu anyarakom but this has to me authentic so gonna try this next time.

  2. Really? never made Pav Bhaji at home until now? Blasphemy girl! :D

    Looks yummy. I use MDH Pav Bhaji Masala and use only Potatoes and frozen Greenpeas. Kids love it so much, eat like Burgers, got to make it again soon.

    I feel so sorry for those birds stuck in oil and so so angry at that smug little BP CEO who says "I want my life back (from the media attention)". Such audacity!!! Unbelievable human trash that one. Should dunk him in that oil and keep him there for few weeks.

  3. I've made pav bhaji once at home, the bhaji that is.

    By the way, I made your recipe, mustard prawns, and even took a pic of it for my daily photo blog - the pic's quite, quite sad, but the curry was great!

  4. I love pav bhaaji and this looks simply yummy !!!!

  5. I have never made pao bhaji at home ... maybe coz all I have to do is to go down to our Shiv Sagar here ... or coz pauruti and tarkari always reminds me of the times I used to be ill when I was a child. Looks great. Corfu makes me want to re read My family and other animals again. :-)

  6. To tell you the truth I have never heard of this thing till I came here. Once tasted the bhaji keeps making its appearance in my kitchen often. Nupur's by far is my favortie too. I don't like the strong smell of the pav bhaji masala powder and hence keep away from it. No Everest or Badshah for me.

  7. Have been meaning to make Nupur's Pav Bhaji for a while now. Thanks for the incentive. And just to put your guilt to rest, it is hard to find Everest brand of any masala out here so even if you went looking for it, I doubt if you will find it.

    One little correction from a fellow Maharashtrian. Marathi is the language and the community is called Maharashtrian. :)

    LOL and amen at Asha's comment on the BP CEO.

  8. This is my all time fav. Looks so good. YUM!

  9. BongMom, same pinch!! I made pav bhaji to finish some spare lurking mixed-veggies. I make pav bhaji often for this purpose. This time I thought, good, it would work as an entry to blog bites. But afterwards I realized that I had just made it following the recipe on the masala box as a habit.. not following any blog at all!! So mine isn't going to go to BB after all. It was really yum none-the-less! :)

    Nice to see yours too! Surprised you haven't made it much before! If you don't get pav where you stay, try "water-rolls".. tastes kind of similar to pav. Cheers!

  10. Love paav-bhaji and i have used both masalas and both are quite good in their own right, though if you can find Everest, i'd say stock up on it (it is closer to street food taste, like Nupur says). Mmmmm, to have this bliss with fresh paavs :).

  11. hi Bong Mom :),
    I am new to blogging .... I accidentally tripped over ur blog n I am glad I did so. U r food stories are gr8 .... I luv them all.

    The Trivia about Pav Bhaji is very informative ....
    Would be glad if you can give ur feedback on my blogspot.

    Looking forward to more of ur food stories n gr8 recipes.


  12. I am guilty as charged as well... I have never made pav bhaji at home either...slight rephrase, I have not made it, but the husband has made it. He adds plenty of butter to it and so it does not find way in our house.
    I like this version and will keep this mind.

  13. yummie!! ami pao bhajir deshe thaki! one suggestion. In Maharashtra, you get the Parampara brand of masalas which are truly unique. Do try their Pav Bhaji Masala. I am quite partial to their brand!! All their masalas have unique concoction and they are already fried, they are not the powder ones. So, you labour is less!! lol!! Sometimes I combine only half a packet or even lesser with other powder ones!! ahehehe

  14. Yummy yum! I love vada pav and pav bhaji, have only tried the vada pav at home... Your post is definitely encouraging me to try pav bhaji!

  15. Looks wonderful, Sandeepa! Thank you for the delicious entry and for trying a recipe from my blog :)

  16. Amaar pav-bhaji khete bhalo laglo kinto boddu buttery hoye, abaar butter chara seyi anando O paba jaye na.Kolkata te O shukh sagar ache bodhaye, naki ami kicho bhol dekhechi :)..
    hugs and smiles

  17. My friend Cheryl in Cincinnati taught me a really easy way to make this: Grab a bag of mixed frozen vegetables from your supermarket (mine usually contains chopped up carrots, peas, beans and corn--yes, corn!) Thaw, then throw contents of bag into a pot with a little water. Meanwhile, boil a couple of large potatoes. When cooked, skin them, cut into large cubes and throw into the pot of mixed vegetables. Add a tablespoon of any Pav Bhaji Masala bought from an Indian grocery store. When all the vegetables are softish, use an immersion blender to puree them in the same pot. Add a knob of butter, salt to taste and voila! Stree-free Pav Bhaji. And its yummy too. I serve it with chopped onion and a wedge of lime. Takes me right back to Bombay!

  18. i have made these too, its awesome!

  19. Hi... and actually, if Nupur says Everest, you should use that. I have tried all..Badshah, MDH and Ashok and whatever masale I get. But Pav Bhaji .. best with Everest.
    Love your blog!

  20. Hi, I remember reading another story, ages back in The Statesman. Apparently pao bhaji was invented for cotton traders who'd wait outside the cotton exchange in the early morning. A vendor put the leftover veggies togaetehr and created this.

    Pao bhaaji in Mumbai uses oodles of butter


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