For Hubby’s birthday, I decided to make him a dish he has been requesting for about the last 8 years of marriage. Why haven’t I made this dish yet? Mainly because my sister-in-law makes such an amazing version, I never dreamed I could live up to his expectations.
This year however, he arrived home from his India trip with a full video of his sister making this recipe. That’s when I realized it was time to give it a go.
To be honest, I have always been intimidated to try this dish. It has complex flavor and uses a variety of vegetables, so I figured it would be difficult and time consuming. But I am amazed at how easy this dish is. You roughly chop everything, throw it in a pot, make the basic Indian flavor base known as tarka, which is in every Indian dish, and mix it together. It’s even easier when I use my food processor to quicken up the prep work.
The recipe is called Pav Bhaji. Pav means bread and Bhaji means vegetables. So it’s vegetables, served with bread (rather than chapatis). It’s a Bombay street food favorite. It’s full of an array of vegetables, this version uses five, but I’ve seen others which use up to nine. It’s a great dish for making use of leftovers. This version of the recipe doesn’t skimp on the ghee and oil. For a healthier day to day version, I like to minimize the oil and ghee.
I tried this recipe for the first time on Hubby’s birthday. It was a little tricky trying to keep Hubby from noticing what I was making. The times when I make the real “top shelf” recipes are usually special occasions, so I go to great lengths to keep it under wraps and await the look of glee on his face. But as he was home on his birthday…which I should have thought of before…it was a little hard to disguise.
Hubby seemed pretty oblivious though, and I was able to have my sister-in-law’s video playing by my side as I chopped and mashed and fried and stirred right along with her.
Cut to dinner time an hour and a half later and Hubby just about exploded with giggles. I was rewarded with a showering of hugs and kisses, and that even before he tasted it. As I am sure you could imagine, as soon as the eating began, there wasn’t much room for conversation. He enjoyed every mouthful.
To make this recipe right, you need to find Pav Bhaji Masala, which is available at Indian grocery stores as a spice mix.
TIME: 90 minutes
1 head of cauliflower
2 green peppers
2 cups peas
1 1/2 inch ginger, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 head garlic
1 head of garlic (about 10 cloves), chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
5 Roma tomatoes (or 3 large tomatoes), chopped
1/4 cup oil (healthy version: go with 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons Ghee (healthy version: 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 tablespoons Pav Bhaji Masala *found at Indian grocery stores
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (just estimate a large handful)
This dish is usually served with pav bread found at Indian grocery stores, or you can substitute soft, pull-apart dinner rolls
1. PREP THE VEGGIES
Roughly chop the cauliflower, carrots, peppers, and potatoes. Peel and grate the ginger.
2. COOK THE VEGGIES:
Add to the pressure cooker the cauliflower, carrots, peppers, peas, potatoes, grated ginger, salt and turmeric. Cook on high until it whistles once, then let it cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until the pressure has released. When the pressure has released, mash the vegetables using a potato masher until well combined. A few solid pieces here and there are fine.
*if you are using a pot instead of a pressure cooker, cook over medium heat until the vegetables can be easily mashed.
3. MAKE THE TARKA
TIP: While the pressure cooker is cooking, prep the vegetables for the tarka.
Chop the garlic and onions. Heat the oil and ghee in a medium sized pan. Fry the garlic until it turns a light golden color (about 2 minutes on medium high).
Add the onions along with 1 teaspoon of salt, cover and cook until golden brown (about 10 minutes). While the onions are cooking, chop the tomatoes.
When the onions are light brown, add the chopped tomatoes. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.
Mash tomatoes with the potato masher and add 2 teaspoons turmeric, 2 teaspoons garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder and 2 tablespoons of Pav Bhaji Masala. Mix well.
4. PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Add the tomato mixture to the pot of mashed vegetables. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime into the mixture.
Chop a large handful of cilantro and add it in.
For an extra flavor boost, and to be extra authentic, add 2 tablespoons butter and mix it in.
5. SERVE WITH TOASTED DINNER ROLLS
Pav Bhaji is traditionally mopped up with small handfuls of bread rolls, called Pav.
Cut open a dinner roll, leaving one side attached. Heat a flat pan or griddle over medium heat. Put two small pats of butter on both sides of the bread. Place the bread, butter side down on hot griddle for a minute. The butter will melt and brown the bread, but it goes from perfect to burnt pretty easily to keep an eye on it.
Heat the top side of the bread a few seconds so it’s warmed through and serve along side your Pav Bhaji.