January 4, 2013

Pav Bhaji

I vividly remember - it was one of the first few times when I had pav bhaji at one of the Saravana Bhavan restaurants in Chennai, I had this wonderful opportunity of seeing how bhaji is being prepared. They had a huge tawa, where bhaji was constantly getting heated. Every now & then, the chef adds butter (or should I say loads of butter !!!! yummmm !!), mixes & mashes the bhaji. He also adds boiled potatoes and other spices at equal intervals, and gives bhaji a good mix & mash again. It was quite a sight to watch! I was so amazed to see how he was able to handle such huge quantity of bhaji with such an ease. But, what needs to be applauded is the taste of the bhaji - it remains just the same - no matter how much ever potatoes/butter/spices he adds to the bhaji base!

That experience truly inspired me to try pav-bhaji for the first time at home! We all loved it and I was thrilled! After all, who could resist spiced potatoes that too with loads of butter!! After that, making pav bhaji became a regular (almost) affair.

Pav Bhaji makes a wonderful evening snack for kids (adults too!). Pav bhaji is a sure winner as an appetizer in parties.

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 30 mins (includes boiling and peeling outer layer of the potatoes)
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 4

Potatoes - 3-4 nos (Medium sized, boiled & mashed)
Onion - 2 nos (Medium sized, finely chopped)
Tomato - 2 nos (Medium sized, finely chopped)
Ginger - 1 inch (Grated)
Garlic - 2 cloves (Grated)
Cilantro - a handful (finely chopped)
Butter - 2 tbsp ( + 1 tbsp for toasting pav buns)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Pav Bhaji masala - 1 tsp (I used MTR brand)
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp (I used home-made tandoori masala)
Salt - to taste
Lime juice - 1 no
Pav buns - as needed (I used store-bought ones)

Heat butter in a broad pan, and as it melts add onions, ginger, garlic and saute until onion turns soft & translucent. Then, add tomatoes and saute until soft. Now, add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, pav bhaji masala, garam masala, salt and saute until tomato is completely cooked and butter oozes out from the sides. Then, add mashed potatoes and mix well. Adjust salt and let it cook for about 5-6 mins. Turn off heat, add lime juice, cilantro and mix well.

Spicy bhaji is ready!

In a broad pan (which can hold upto 6-8 pav buns), heat 1/2 tbsp of butter. As soon as it melts, carefully rotate the pan so that the butter coats the entire pan. Now, cut pav buns into 2 halves and arrange them with their bases flat on the pan. Toast until the base turns brown and remove from the pan.

Serve pav and bhaji with some fresh garnish on the side (lime wedges/cilantro). Enjoy!

  • I have seen recipes adding peas/carrots and other veggies to the bhaji. If you like the idea, just boil/pressure cook all the vegetables, mash them nicely and mix with potatoes.
  • You can also add freshly chopped onions as garnish. I totally skipped it, as I am not a fan of the taste & smell of raw onions.
  • I strongly recommend using butter as it elevates the taste of bhaji.
  • Add water towards the end (right before removing the pan from heat) to adjust bhaji to the required consistency.

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