Pav Bhaji – Mashed Spiced Vegetable Gravy

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Pav Bhaji is a hearty, delightsome, flavorful meal of mashed vegetable gravy with fluffy soft buttery dinner rolls served with a side of crunchy piquant onions, tangy lemon and herby coriander. Make this super delicious popular street food following my video and step-by-step guide. You will love this pav bhaji recipe for its Mumbai style flavors. I share the traditional method of making Mumbai Pav Bhaji and a quick Instant Pot recipe.

pav bhaji served in a rectangular serving tray with buttered pav and chopped onions, cilantro and lemon wedges on a white table

What is Pav Bhaji

Pav bhaji is an iconic dish from Mumbai and hugely popular all over India as a street food. It originated in Mumbai as a quick lunch option for textile mill workers.

Gradually this dish becomes so popular that now it is served as street food as well as in restaurants in Mumbai and the rest of India.

In Hindi and Marathi languages, the word “Pav” is for bread rolls. “Bhaji” means vegetables or a vegetable based dish (dry or gravy) in the Marathi language. Since both the bhaji (vegetable gravy) and pav (dinner rolls) are served together, hence the name ‘Pav Bhaji‘.

It is basically a mix of mashed and spiced vegetables in a tangy flavorful spiced gravy. A special spice blend called ‘Pav Bhaji Masala‘ is used to make this dish. Pav bhaji masala powder is easily available in Indian stores and online but can be made at home too.

Keep in mind that the best taste of the bhaji comes from using the perfect and best pav bhaji masala. I highly recommend to include your favorite brand or make your own homemade pav bhaji masala.

If you love Mumbai pav bhaji like us, you could have a look at this savory, spiced stuffed dinner rolls known as Masala Pav which is also a street food.

pav bhaji served in a rectangular serving tray with buttered pav and chopped onions, cilantro and lemon wedges

About This Recipe

My recipe traces back to my teens when I would make this delightful dish for my parents and sister. Whenever we would go to Juhu beach in Mumbai, pav bhaji was one snack we would always gorge upon.

I have fond memories of savoring pav bhaji and other Mumbai street food snacks in my childhood at Juhu beach. And it is from this place that I have picked up the fine nuances and inspiration of making this decades old recipe.

To make my version, specifically the bhaji – onion, ginger-garlic paste, tomatoes, are sautéed in butter first. Later to which boiled and mashed vegetables are added followed by pav bhaji masala.

The bhaji or vegetable gravy is simmered for some minutes and served steaming hot with buttered and lightly toasted bread rolls.

While in the streets and in restaurants, they make pav bhaji on a large flat tawa (griddle). But when making at home you can easily use a wok (kadai) or skillet or a frying pan.

Ingredients You Need

  • Mix Vegetables. I add a mix of veggies like cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, capsicum and green peas. The Mumbai street side versions do not have carrots, but I add them for health reasons. They also add very less amount of cauliflower and sometimes omit it completely.
  • Green Peas. I always add fresh or frozen green peas. The street side bhaji has dried green or white peas which are cooked and mashed. The dried green peas give a different taste and consistency to the bhaji. Feel free to include dried green peas in this recipe.
  • Butter. I personally prefer to use the Indian brand of Amul butter for the bhaji, but you could use any brand or even white butter.
  • Pav Bhaji Masala. This is a special spice blend that is added into the bhaji. Either buy a good brand of make your own following my recipe of Pav Bhaji Masala.
  • Pav (Dinner Rolls): Pav are soft, fluffy dinner rolls. For the pav you can either make them at home or buy from a good bakery. I usually make Pav a day before when I decide to make pav bhaji or when I have Misal Pav on the menu. For health reasons, you can opt for whole wheat dinner rolls.

How to get a red or orange color in the bhaji

The bhaji that is served in restaurants has a bright orange or red color. Homemade bhaji usually does not have this red or orange color. I have heard about some street vendors adding artificial red color to the vegetable gravy.

To get that red color naturally, either you can make a red chilli paste or include the mild Kashmiri red chilli powder. As far as possible avoid the use of artificial food colors in your food and use natural food colors instead.

For making the the red chili paste, first soak 3 to 4 Kashmiri red chilies (seeds removed) in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain and add a bit of the soaked water and blend to a fine paste in a blender.

bombay pav bhaji served in a rectangular serving tray with buttered pav and chopped onions, cilantro and lemon wedges on a white table
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Pav Bhaji

Cook Vegetables

1. Rinse, peel and chop the veggies. You will need 1 cup chopped cauliflower, 1 cup chopped carrot, 3 medium sized potatoes (chopped) and ⅓ cup chopped french beans.

Note: You can also add veggies that you like, but do not add okra, eggplants, pumpkin, radish, corn, yam or green leafy vegetables.

Cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, pumpkin are some unique options that you can consider to add, but the traditional version does not include these veggies.

veggies for pav bhaji recipe

2. Add all the above chopped veggies in a 3 litre pressure cooker. Also add 1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen).

I cook the veggies in a pressure cooker. You can boil or steam them using a pan or in the Instant pot.

veggies for pav bhaji recipe

3. Add 2.25 to 2.5 cups water.

veggies for pav bhaji recipe

4. Pressure cook the veggies for 5 to 6 whistles or for about 12 minutes on medium heat.

veggies for pav bhaji recipe

5. When the pressure settles down on its own, open the cooker and check if the veggies are fork tender, softened and cooked well.

You can even steam or cook the veggies in a pan or pot. The vegetables have be to cooked completely. Set aside the vegetables with the cooked water (broth/stock) in the cooker itself.

veggies for pav bhaji recipe

Sauté Onions, Spices

6. Heat a frying pan or kadai (wok). You can also use a large tawa or a skillet. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons butter. You can use amul butter or any brand of butter. The butter can be salted or unsalted.

making pav bhaji recipe

7. Let the butter melt.

making pav bhaji recipe

8. As soon as the butter melts, add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds.

making pav bhaji recipe

9. Let the cumin seeds crackle and change their color.

making pav bhaji recipe

10. Then add ½ cup chopped onions.

making pav bhaji recipe

11. Mix onions with the butter and sauté on a low to medium heat.

making pav bhaji recipe

12. Sauté until the onions turn translucent.

making Mumbai pav bhaji recipe

13. Add 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste. You can crush 1.5 inch ginger and 5 to 6 medium garlic cloves, in a mortar-pestle.

making pav bhaji recipe

14. Mix and sauté for some seconds until the raw aroma of both ginger and garlic goes away.

making pav bhaji recipe

15. Then add 1 to 2 green chilies (chopped).

making pav bhaji recipe

16. Mix well.

making Mumbai pav bhaji recipe

Sauté Tomatoes

17. Add 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes. Swap canned tomatoes if you do not have fresh tomatoes.

making pav bhaji recipe

18. Mix very well.

making Mumbai pav bhaji recipe

19. Then begin to sauté tomatoes on a low to medium heat.

making Mumbai pav bhaji recipe

20. Sauté until the tomatoes become soft, mushy and you see butter releasing from the sides. This takes about 6 to 7 minutes on a low to medium heat.

TIP: If the tomatoes start sticking to the pan, then sprinkle some water. Mix well and deglaze the pan.

making Mumbai pav bhaji recipe

Sauté Bell Pepper and Ground Spices

21. When the tomatoes have softened, add ½ cup finely chopped capsicum (green bell pepper). Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.

TIP: If the mixture starts sticking to the pan, then add some splashes of water. You don’t need to cook the capsicum until very soft. A little crunch is fine in the capsicum.

making pav bhaji recipe

22. Add 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder.

making Mumbai pav bhaji recipe

23. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons Pav bhaji Masala Powder. Depending on how instense is the aroma and flavor of pav bhaji masala, you can add it in less or more proportions.

Add 2 tablespoons if the pav bhaji masala is strong, intense and flavorful. For a more robust and spiced bhaji add 3 tablespoons of it.

making Mumbai pav bhaji recipe

24. Mix very well.

making pav bhaji recipe

Include Cooked Vegetables

25. Add the cooked veggies. You can choose to mash the veggies before you add them in the pan or skillet.

making pav bhaji recipe

26. Mix well.

pav bhaji recipe

Add Stock or Water

27. Add all of the stock or water from the pressure cooker in which the veggies were cooked.

pav bhaji recipe

28. Combine and mix thoroughly.

pav bhaji recipe

29. Season with salt according to your taste preferences and give a mix.

pav bhaji recipe

Mash Vegetables

30. With a potato masher, begin to carefully mash the veggies directly in the pan.

making pav bhaji recipe

31. You can mash the veggies less or more according to the consistency you want in the bhaji. For a smooth mixture mash more. For a chunky bhaji, mash less. Add more water if the bhaji looks thick.

making pav bhaji recipe

Simmer Bhaji

32. Keep on stirring occasionally and let the mashed vegetable gravy simmer for 8 to 10 minutes on a low heat.

making pav bhaji recipe

33. If the bhaji looks dry and then add some water. The consistency is neither very thick nor thin.

making pav bhaji recipe

34. Do stir often so that the bhaji does not stick to the pan. When the bhaji simmers to the desired consistency, check the taste. Add salt, pav bhaji masala, red chili powder or butter if needed.

making pav bhaji recipe

Toast Pav (Dinner Rolls)

1. When the bhaji is simmering, you can pan fry the bread rolls so that you serve the pav with steaming hot bhaji. Cut through the bread roll from the center so that you get two equal halves.

pav for making pav bhaji recipe

2. Heat a tawa or skillet or a shallow frying pan. Keep the heat to a low and then add 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or more if you like.

making pav bhaji recipe

3. When the butter begins to melt, add 1 teaspoon of pav bhaji masala (for 2 to 3 pav). You can skip pav bhaji masala if you prefer.

making pav bhaji recipe

4. Mix the pav bhaji masala very well with a spoon or spatula.

making pav bhaji recipe

5. Then place the pav on the butter.

making pav bhaji recipe

6. Press with a spatula and rotate the pav all over the melted butter so that the pav absorbs the butter together with the ground spices.

making pav bhaji recipe

7. Now turn over the pav. Press gently with a spatula and rotate them on the tawa so that the second side absorbs the butter.

Add more butter if needed. You can turn over and toast them more if required. Then transfer the lightly pan fried bread rolls in a plate and set aside. This way fry the rolls in two to three batches.

pav bhaji recipe
Step-by-Step Guide

Instant Pot Pav Bhaji

This is a quick and easy method of preparing delicious pav bhaji in an electric pressure cooker or instant pot.

There are times when I make Mumbai pav bhaji in the instant pot. So I thought I will share this method here. It is easy and saves time. So when in a hurry or when you have unexpected guests, you can consider making pav bhaji in the instant pot.

In the instant pot the cooking method is different. Unlike the street-side stalls where this dish is made on very large tawa or griddle, in the instant pot everything is cooked together that saves time.

Prep Vegetables

1. Firstly chop all the veggies and keep them ready. You can add your choice of veggies. I have used a mix of potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, french beans, peas and capsicum. Chop the carrots, beans, cauliflower, potatoes in small cubes or pieces so that they get cooked faster.

mix veggies

2. Switch on the instant pot. Press the saute button on less mode.

press the saute button of instant pot on less mode

Sauté Spices and Onions

3. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons butter in the IP steel insert.

2 to 3 tablespoons butter in the instant pot steel insert

4. When the butter melts, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and let them splutter and change color.

½ teaspoon cumin seeds in instant pot

5. Then add ½ cup finely chopped onions.

½ cup finely chopped onions in instant pot

6. Sauté onions till they soften and turn translucent using the ‘less’ or ‘normal’ mode of the sauté option in the Instant pot.

saute onions in instant pot

7. Next add 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste and 1 or 2 chopped green chillies.

2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste in instant pot

8. Stir and sauté for a few seconds until the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.

saute ginger garlic paste in instant pot

Sauté Tomatoes and Capsicum

9. Then add 2 cups chopped tomatoes and ⅓ cup chopped capsicum (green bell pepper). Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.

tomatoes and capsicum added to instant pot

Add Raw Veggies and Ground Spices

10. Add the chopped veggies and green peas.

mix veggies and peas added to instant pot

11. Add ½ teaspoon turmeric powder and 1 to 1.5 teaspoons Kashmiri red chilli powder. If using any other red chilli powder or cayenne pepper, then you can add less of it.

spices added to instant pot

12. Mix everything very well. Deglaze while mixing so that any ingredients stuck at the bottom of the pan is removed. The moisture from the vegetables helps in deglazing.

mix

Add Water

13. Add 2 cups of water. Stir again. Deglaze if required.

add water to instant pot

Pressure Cook

14. Press the cancel button. Now press the pressure cooker/manual button and set time to 7 minutes on high pressure.

pressure cook bhaji in instant pot

15. When the beep sound is heard and the pressure cooking is complete, do a quick pressure release (QPR). When all the pressure is released, open the lid.

cooked bhaji in instant pot

Mash Vegetables

16. Using a napkin or oven mittens, remove the steel insert from the instant pot. Place it on your kitchen counter. With a potato masher, begin to mash the cooked vegetables. Mash very well. You can even use an immersion blender and puree the veggies to a semi-fine consistency.

mash the bhaji

17. Now add 2 tablespoons pav bhaji masala and 1 to 2 tablespoons butter. You can skip the butter if you want. Mix very well.

add pav bhaji masala to bhaji in instant pot

18. Place the steel insert pan in the IP. Press the cancel button and then press the sauté button on normal mode. Set the timer to 3 to 5 minutes or more.

cooking bhaji in instant pot in saute mode

Simmer

19. Simmer the bhaji for a few minutes, till it thickens a bit. Stir often, so that the bhaji does not stick to the bottom. If the bhaji looks very thick, then add some water.

simmer bhaji in instant pot for few minutes

20. Simmer till you get the desired consistency.

simmer the bhaji in instant pot

21. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves. Mix very well. Do check the taste and add salt, butter, Kashmiri red chili powder or pav bhaji masala if required. Cancel and keep the IP mode on warm.

add coriander leaves to bhaji

Pan Fry Dinner Rolls

22. For the pav, heat a tawa or griddle and melt some butter on it. Place sliced pavs (dinner rolls) on it.

pav on griddle

24. Let the pav soak the butter and become warm. If you want you can even lightly toast the pavs.

lightly toasted pav on griddle

Serving Suggestions

Whether you have made the pav bhaji recipe with the traditional method or in an Instant pot, it is now time to serve and enjoy it. Here is how Mumbai pav bhaji is served if you are new to this dish.

  • Pour the vegetable gravy in a bowl. Top it up with one to two cubes of butter. You can add more butter, if you like.
  • Place a side of finely chopped onions, lemon wedges and finely chopped coriander leaves. Or you can sprinkle onions, coriander leaves and lemon juice directly on the bhaji.
  • The bhaji is topped with chopped onions, coriander leaves and the lime or lemon juice is squeezed on the bhaji and then eaten with dinner rolls aka Pav. To lighten up your palate, you can consider to serve pav bhaji with a cooling Cucumber Raita.
  • Serve bhaji with the lightly pan fried and buttered pav.
instant pot pav bhaji garnished with cilantro and served in a white tray with toasted rolls and chopped onions and lemons
Tips

Expert Tips

Which vegetables to add

The vegetables that are usually added are cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, peas, capsicum and french beans. In the pav bhaji that one gets on the streets of Mumbai, carrots are not added. But when you make at home, you can add carrots.

You can also just make bhaji with any of these veggie proportions, but keep the proportion of cauliflower less in comparison with the other vegetables.

Refrain from using veggies like okra, eggplants, radish, corn, yam or green leafy vegetables.

You can consider to include cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, pumpkin, but these are not added in traditional street side versions.

Cooking veggies

In the recipe I have used a pressure cooker for cooking the vegetables. You can also steam or cook them in a pan on the stove-top or in a steamer pan.

Taste and Flavor

Depending on the quantity of these vegetables, the final taste and color of the bhaji will be different. Example, if you add more carrots, the bhaji will have a mild sweeter taste. However, do add capsicum (green bell pepper) as it gives a really good taste to the bhaji.

Spicing

The spices and ground spice powders can be easily adjusted to suit your taste. So you can add less or more quantities of the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and green chillies. For a spicy Mumbai pav bhaji, add more red chilli powder.

Pav Bhaji Masala

It is very crucial to use a good brand of pav bhaji masala or make it at home following my recipe – Pav Bhaji Masala. Ensure that your pav bhaji masala is fresh and not rancid.

Vegan option

If you don’t want to add butter, then you can also make the pav bhaji recipe with a neutral tasting oil or a vegan butter.

Gluten-free option

Prepare the bhaji following the recipe and serve with gluten-free dinner rolls or bread. 

Variations

There are many variations of making pav bhaji. The bhaji remains the same in most variations and some more ingredients or spice blends are added.

One largely different variation is kada pav bhaji where the vegetables are not mashed but kept chunky and whole. Some pav bhaji variations are:

  • Paneer pav bhaji – In this version, the bhaji is topped with grated paneer or cooked with paneer cubes.
  • Cheese pav bhaji – Plenty of grated cheese (processed cheese, cheddar or mozzarella) is topped on the bhaji which gives it a cheesy taste
  • No onion no garlic pav bhaji – A satvik version made without onions and garlic.
  • Jain pav bhaji – This style of pav bhaji recipe is made without onions, garlic and potatoes. Plantains (green unripe raw bananas) are added in place of potatoes.
  • Kala pav bhaji – Here the bhaji is made with the Maharashtrian kala masala or goda masala. It is also known as black pav bhaji. To make this interesting version, add 1 teaspoon of kala masala or goda masala when you add the pav bhaji masala to the mashed veggies.
  • Pav bhaji fondue – Some restaurants have this fancy concept of serving the bhaji in a fondue bowl with the rolls.
  • Kolhapuri pav bhaji – This is a really spicy and hot pav bhaji recipe made with the fiery Kolhapuri masala or kanda lasun masala (onion garlic masala).
  • Khada pav bhaji – In this pav bhaji recipe variation, the vegetables are not mashed but kept chunky and whole.
  • Mushroom pav bhaji – Button mushrooms are included with the remaining vegetables to make this umami rich variation.
  • Punjabi pav bhaji – This variation is a robust pav bhaji recipe made with more ground spices and lots of butter.

FAQs

What can I use instead of Pav Bhaji Masala

Instead of pav bhaji masala, add 2 teaspoons garam masala and 1 teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder) in this recipe.

Which Pav Bhaji Masala is best?

I mostly prefer to use homemade pav bhaji masala, but when out of stock I have found the Indian brands of Everest, Pure and Sure & Badshah pav bhaji masala to be good.

What goes with Pav Bhaji?

You can enjoy Pav bhaji as a meal for lunch or dinner. You can also serve it for your evening snack. The vegetable gravy or bhaji is served with pav which are soft bread rolls. A few cubes of butter are topped on the steaming hot bhaji with a sprinkling of some coriander leaves. As a side, some chopped onions and lemon wedges are served. The lemon juice has to be drizzled on the bhaji, mixed and the bhaji scooped with a piece of the bread roll.

Is Pav Bhaji good for health?

The street side pav bhaji has loads of butter and served with dinner rolls made with all-purpose flour (maida). But when you make the recipe at home, it can be customized and made healthy. Add less butter or use oil instead for the bhaji. Opt for whole wheat rolls and lightly toast them without any fat.

Apart from pav bhaji there are various street food recipes which are popular in Mumbai and any foodie visiting Mumbai should try them (listed below).

Popular Mumbai Street Food Recipes To Try!


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pav bhaji served in a rectangular serving tray with buttered pav and chopped onions, cilantro and lemon wedges on a white table

Pav Bhaji Recipe

4.85 from 143 votes
Pav Bhaji is a hearty, delightsome, flavorful meal of mashed vegetable gravy with fluffy soft buttery dinner rolls served with a side of crunchy piquant onions, tangy lemon and herby coriander. You will love this pav bhaji recipe for its Mumbai style flavors. I share the traditional method of making Pav Bhaji and a quick Instant Pot recipe.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins

Cuisine Indian Street Food, Maharashtrian
Course: Brunch, Main Course, Snacks, Starters
Diet: Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Servings 5
Units

Ingredients

For making bhaji (vegetable gravy)

  • 3 potatoes (medium-sized) – 250 grams
  • 1 to 1.25 cups chopped cauliflower – 120 to 130 grams
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup green peas – fresh or frozen
  • cup chopped french beans – 12 to 14 french beans – optional
  • 2.25 to 2.5 cups water – for pressure cooking veggies

Other ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter – salted or unsalted
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion or 1 medium to large onion
  • 2 teaspoons Ginger-Garlic Paste or 1.5 inch ginger & 5 to 6 medium garlic cloves crushed in a mortar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies or serrano peppers or 1 to 2 green chilies
  • ½ cup finely chopped capsicum or 1 medium sized capsicum (green bell pepper)
  • 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes (tightly packed) or about 2 to 3 large tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • 1 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder or freshly ground 3 to 4 soaked dry kashmiri red chilies
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Pav Bhaji Masala – add as required
  • 1.5 to 2 cups water or the stock in which the veggies were cooked, add as needed
  • salt as required

For Instant Pot Pav Bhaji

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter  – salted or unsalted
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions or 1 medium to large onion – 50 to 60 grams
  • 2 teaspoons Ginger-Garlic Paste or 1.5 inch ginger and 5 to 6 medium garlic cloves crushed in a mortar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies or serrano peppers or 1 to 2 green chillies
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes  or 3 large tomatoes – 300 grams
  • cup chopped capsicum (green bell pepper)
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes  or 3 medium or 2 large potatoes – 250 grams
  • ¾ to 1 cup chopped cauliflower – 100 grams
  • ¾ cup chopped carrots  or 1 medium to large carrot – 100 grams
  • ¼ cup chopped french beans – optional
  • ½ cup green peas – fresh or frozen
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoons kashmiri red chilli powder or  ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika
  • 1.25 cups water
  • salt  as required
  • 2 tablespoons  Pav Bhaji Masala
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons  butter – to be added later
  • 2 tablespoons  coriander leaves (cilantro)

Accompaniments

  • 12 pav (dinner rolls)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter – for roasting pav
  • 1 lemon or lime, chopped in wedges
  • 1 onion – medium to large, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves – for garnish
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter – for topping – add more for a richer version

Instructions

Cooking veggies

  • Rinse, peel and chop the veggies. You will need 1 cup chopped cauliflower, 1 cup chopped carrot, 3 medium sized potatoes (chopped) and ⅓ cup chopped french beans. You can also add veggies of your choice.
  • Add all the above chopped veggies in a 2 litre pressure cooker. Also add 1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen).
  • Add 2.25 to 2.5 cups water.
  • Pressure cook the veggies for 5 to 6 whistles or for about 12 minutes on medium flame.
  • When the pressure settles down on its own, open the cooker and check if the veggies are cooked well. You can even steam or cook the veggies in a pan. The vegetables have be to cooked completely.

Sautéing onions

  • Heat a pan or kadai. You can also use a large tawa. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons butter. You can use amul butter or any brand of butter. Butter can be salted or unsalted.
  • As soon as the butter melts, add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds.
  • Let the cumin seeds crackle and change their color.
  • Then add ½ cup finely chopped onions.
  • Mix onions with the butter and saute on a low to medium flame till the onions translucent.
  • Then add 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste. You can also crush 1.5 inch ginger and 5 to 6 medium garlic cloves in a mortar-pestle. 
  • Mix and saute till the raw aroma of both ginger and garlic goes away.
  • Then add chopped green chilies. Mix well.

Sautéing tomatoes

  • Now add 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes. Mix very well.
  • Then begin to sauté tomatoes on a low to medium heat.
  • Saute till the tomatoes become soft and mushy and you see butter releasing from the sides. This takes about 6 to 7 minutes on a low to medium flame. If the tomatoes start sticking to the pan, then sprinkle some water and mix well.
  • When the tomatoes have softened, then add ½ cup finely chopped capsicum (green bell pepper). Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. If the mixture starts sticking to the pan, then you can sprinkle some water. You don’t need to cook the capsicum till very soft. A little crunch is alright.

Sautéing ground spices

  • Add 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder.
  • Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons pav bhaji masala. mix very well.

Adding cooked vegetables

  • Add the cooked veggies. Add all of the stock or water from the pressure cooker in which the veggies were cooked. Mix very well.
  • Then season with salt as per taste.
  • With a potato masher, begin to mash the veggies directly in the pan.
  • You can mash the veggies less or more according to the consistency you want. For a smooth mixture mash more. For a chunky pav bhaji, mash less.
  • Keep on stirring occasionally and let the bhaji simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. 
  • If the bhaji looks dry and then add some more water. The consistency is neither very thick nor thin.
  • Do stir often so that the bhaji does not stick to the pan. When the pav bhaji simmers to the desired consistency, check the taste. Add salt, pav bhaji masala, red chili powder or butter if required.
  • When the bhaji is simmering, you can fry the pav so that you serve the pav with hot bhaji. Slice the pavs.

Making Instant Pot Pav Bhaji

  • Switch on the instant pot. Press the sauté button on less mode. Add 2 tablespoons butter in the ip steel insert.
  • When the butter melts, add cumin seeds and let them splutter and change color. Then add finely chopped onions and sauté onions till they soften.
  • Next add the ginger-garlic paste and green chillies. Mix and sauté for a few seconds till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
  • Then add chopped tomatoes and chopped capsicum. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.Add the chopped veggies and green peas.
  • Add ½ teaspoon turmeric powder and 1 to 1.5 teaspoons kashmiri red chilli powder. If using any other red chili powder or cayenne pepper, then you can add less of it. Also, add salt as per taste.
  • Mix everything very well. Add water and stir.
  • Press the cancel button. Now press the pressure cooker/manual button and set time to 7 minutes on high pressure.
  • When the beep sound is heard and the pressure cooking is complete, do a quick pressure release (qpr). When all the pressure is released, open the lid. 
  • Using a napkin or oven mittens, remove the steel insert from the instant pot. Place it on your kitchen counter.
  • With a potato masher, begin to mash the cooked vegetables. Mash very well. You can even use an immersion blender and puree the veggies. Just make a semi-fine puree.
  • Now add 2 tablespoons pav bhaji masala and 1 to 2 tablespoons butter. You can skip the butter if you want. Mix very well.
  • Place the steel insert pan in the IP. Press the cancel button and then press the sauté button on normal mode. Set the timer to 3 to 5 minutes or more.
  • Simmer the bhaji for a few minutes, till it thickens a bit and you get the desired consistency. Stir often, so that the bhaji does not stick to the bottom. If the bhaji looks very thick, then add some water.
  • Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves. Mix very well. Do check the taste and add salt, butter, kashmiri red chili powder or pav bhaji masala if required. Cancel and keep the IP on warm mode.

Toasting pav (dinner rolls)

  • Heat a skillet or a shallow frying pan. Keep the flame to a low and then add butter.
  • When the butter begins to melt, add a bit of pav bhaji masala. You can skip pav bhaji masala if you want.
  • Mix the pav bhaji masala very well with a spoon or spatula.
  • Then place the pav on the butter.
  • Rotate the pav all over the melted butter so that the pav absorbs the butter.
  • Now turn over the pav and rotate them on the tawa so that the second side absorbs the butter. Add more butter if required.
  • You can turn over and toast them more if required. Then remove in a plate and keep aside.

Serving suggestions

  • Take the bhaji in a serving plate or a bowl. Top it up with one to two cubes of butter. You can add more butter, if you like. 
  • Place a side of finely chopped onions, lemon wedges and finely chopped coriander leaves. Or you can sprinkle onions, coriander leaves and lemon juice directly on the bhaji. 
  • Serve bhaji with the lightly pan fried and buttered pav. Pav bhaji is topped with chopped onions, coriander leaves and the lime or lemon juice is squeezed on the bhaji while eating. 

Storage and Leftovers

  • Refrigerate only the bhaji (vegetable gravy without any toppings of onions, coriander and lemon juice) in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
  • Reheat in a small pan. If the bhaji looks thick, mix in some water to loosen it a bit and reheat.

Video

Notes

1. Which vegetables to add?
The vegetables that are usually added are sturdy veggies like cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, peas, capsicum and french beans. In the pav bhaji that one gets in the streets of Mumbai, carrots are not added. But when you make at home, you can add carrots.
You can also simply make bhaji with any of these veggie proportions but always keep the proportion of cauliflower less than the other veggies.
Refrain from using veggies like okra, eggplants, radish, corn, yam or green leafy vegetables. Cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, pumpkin are some unique options that you can consider to add, but the traditional version does not include these vegetables.
2. Cooking veggies
In the recipe I have used a pressure cooker for cooking the vegetables. You can also steam or cook them in a pan on the stove-top.
3. Taste and Flavor
Depending on the quantity of these vegetables, the final taste and color of the bhaji will be different. Example, if you add more carrots, the bhaji will have a mild sweeter taste. However, do add capsicum (green bell pepper) as it gives a really good taste to the bhaji.
4. Spicing
The spice powders can be easily adjusted to suit your taste. So add them less or more according to your preferences.
5. Vegan option
If you don’t want to add butter, then you can also make the pav bhaji recipe with a neutral tasting oil or a vegan butter.
6. Gluten-free options
Make the bhaji as is following the recipe and serve with gluten-free dinner rolls or bread. 
7. Pav Bhaji Masala
Use good quality pav bhaji masala or make it at home following my recipe – Pav Bhaji Masala
8. Do not have pav bhaji masala?
Not to worry. Try this option and it works so well, that no one will know the difference. Swap pav bhaji masala with 2 teaspoons garam masala and 1 teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder).

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Pav Bhaji Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 531 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 18mg6%
Sodium 896mg39%
Potassium 1166mg33%
Carbohydrates 88g29%
Fiber 13g54%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 16g32%
Vitamin A 5459IU109%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 7mg35%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 84mg102%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 28µg27%
Calcium 255mg26%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 141µg35%
Iron 6mg33%
Magnesium 102mg26%
Phosphorus 270mg27%
Zinc 2mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This pav bhaji recipe from the blog archives (February 2010) has been republished and updated on 28 April 2021.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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332 Comments

    1. Earlier I have used Everest and Badshah and they were good. Thanks for the feedback on the recipes.

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