Pav bahji is one of the most famous and much loved street food of Mumbai. It consists of a mash of spicy vegetables slathered in butter, and eaten scooped up with a hot bread roll.
If I had to find a comparable North American dish I would describe it as a fragrant Indian sloppy joe. Messy, comforting and utterly delicious.
Indian cuisine doesn’t have to be complicated. And, like many other cuisines, a well stocked spice cupboard will get you far. The list of ingredients in today’s recipe might look a bit exhaustive, but it uses spices that are used worldwide. They are well worth getting as you’ll use them again and again.
*Step 1 and 4 – When the butter starts to foam, add the chopped onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until golden. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
*Step 3 to 6 – Mash the potatoes and cook the aubergine until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes, paste, spices and check the seasoning. Cook for an extra 5 minutes until it gets thick, rich and dark red.
The pav bahji I’m sharing with you was inspired by Meera Sodha’s recipe from her “Made in India” cookbook. I bought this book hoping it would teach me the real Indian home-cooking style, which I heard is quite different from a lot of the food served in Indian restaurants across the UK. In her book, she shares simple and fresh family recipes she grew up eating everyday and I was pleased to find that most of them are quick and easy, perfect for my busy lifestyle.
*Step 7 and 8 – Finally, add the mashed potatoes and loosen with 50ml of water. Finish with a generous knob of butter and serve on a soft buttered bun with chopped onions, fresh coriander and lemon juice.
If, like me, you always I thought Indian cooking would be out of your reach, then I highly recommend this cookbook, which you can find by clicking Here. Obviously, the recipes are for a family of 4 and some tweaking might be needed to fit the solo cook lifestyle. But this is what I’m here for, and I’m sure this book will inspire me to create more Indian meals in the near future.
- 1 large potato (about 250g)
- 1.5 tbsp butter (20g), + more 1 extra knob to finish
- 1 Red Onion
- 2 Garlic clove
- 2cm Ginger piece
- 1 Aubergine (eggplant)
- 1 small 220g can Chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp Tomato paste
- 1 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp Ground Coriander
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- a pinch Turmeric
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Chili powder (optional)
- To serve
- 4 small or 2 large Buns, toasted and buttered
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- Coriander leaves
- Lemon wedges
- Peel and cut the potato into equal chunks and place in a bowl. Cook in microwave at full power for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and cooked through.
- While the potatoes cook, put a large pan over medium heat with the butter. Chop the onion and add to the pan when the butter starts to foam. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until golden.
- In the meantime, finely grated the ginger and crush the garlic. Wash and chop the aubergine into 1 cm cubes. Check the potatoes, which should be ready. If not, cook for an extra minute at a time. Once fluffy, season and mash with a fork. Keep all aside.
- Once the onions are soft and golden, add the ginger and garlic. Cook for a minute and add the aubergine. Mix well and cover the pan with lid. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the aubergine is soft.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, mix and keep cooking for 5 more minutes until it gets thick, rich and dark red.
- Add all the spices, salt and the chili powder if you like an extra kick. Mix well and check the seasoning.
- Finally, add the mashed potatoes and 50ml (about 1/4 cup) of water to loosen the bhaji. Warm through for a minute or two and finish the dish with a generous knob of butter.
- Serve the pav bahji on a soft buttered bun with a sprinkle of chopped red onions, fresh coriander and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
- Buying small cans of chopped tomatoes might be a bit more expensive than getting the bigger ones. But you get to use only what is needed and avoid wastage. That's the kind of stuff I love.