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 street style Pav Bhaji and a quick Instant Pot recipe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Masala8. 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).