Pav bhaji is a savory and spicy dish originated in Mumbai, India in 1860 when civil war started in USA which increased their demand for cotton in the country. India at the time was the largest supplier of cotton, so the employees in Bombay Cotton Exchange had to work late nights. Their wife frustrated from their hectic schedules and they had to sleep empty stomach, which affected their productivity at work. So to feed the workers, vendors would put their stalls outside the mills, mixing all the leftover vegetables, potato and tomatoes and spices and this is how Pav Bhaji came into origin. As the number of mills grew, the vendors started to spread this recipe and over the years it became a friend of Mumbaikars who gave them company late at night. Served with a dollop of butter, Pav (bread) brushed with butter and toasted on the tawa (disc shaped frying pan made of cast iron, aluminum or carbon steel), chopped onions, coriander and lemon slice, its heavenly.
Two favorite hotspots for Pav Bhaji in Mumbai are Sardar Pav Bhaji (at tardeo road junction) and Cannon (opposite CST station), but my personal favorite is Ashraya Restaurant in Dadar, near Shivaji Park.
For cooking vegetable for bhaji:
4-5 medium potatoes
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup carrots, roughly chopped
2 cup green peas
2 medium green bell peppers
1 cup French beans, roughly chopped
100 grams unsalted butter
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 large onions finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
4-5 green chilis chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 large tomatoes chopped or pureed
2-3 cups water
2-3 tsp red chili powder
4-5 tbsp pav bhaji masala (or more according to your taste)
Accompaniments with Bhaji:
8-10 pav to serve with bhaji
1 chopped onion
4 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp chopped coriander
3-4 lemon wedges
Wash peel and chop the potatoes and carrots. Cut cauliflower into medium sized florets. Roughly chop the bell peppers and French beans (roughly chop the vegetables as after cooking we need to mash all the veggies). Chop onions and tomatoes (you can also puree the tomatoes if you want).
Place all the vegetables (apart from onions and tomatoes) in a cooker, cover it with water and cook the vegetables 4-5 whistles or until they are soft and easy to mash. You can also add vegetables like broccoli etc. When they are cooked strain and mash all the vegetables (save the water so you can add it later while cooking)
Heat butter in a pot. Add onions and saute on medium flame on 4-5 minutes. Add ginger garlic paste and saute for 2-3 minutes or until the raw taste of ginger garlic paste is gone. When onions are cooked add chopped green chilies and chopped tomatoes (or puree) and cook until tomatoes are soft and mushy, you will see butter realizing from the sides.
When tomatoes are cooked add the mashed vegetables and mix it well. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and pav bhaji masala and mix well. Add the saved water from the vegetables. Adjust the seasonings. Turn off the heat.
Heat a tawa (pan). Add butter, when butter starts melting add a bit of bhaji in the tawa so the pav absorbs the flavor of butter and masala. Toast it on both sides. When done remove on a plate.
Remove bhaji in a bowl. Add chopped onions, coriander, a tbsp of butter and a lemon wedge. Place it in a plate with toasted pav. Add more butter if needed.