Street food in most countries is in a league of its own. Mumbai has a very distinctive culture with several “Khau Galis” (Eating lanes) offering a range of different types of cuisines. What I love about this type of food is that there is so much to choose from. I have eaten everything from the humble Vada Pav to the (Chinjabi) Chinese Hakka Noodles available at small roadside stalls and shops.Street food is so cheap that anyone can afford it and not to mention it is delicious and tasty with a unique flavor of its own. There is no status or cultural barrier for the foodies who haunt such places. It is true that food binds us together.
On my last visit to India I realized that my appetite to eat Indian street food has diminished considerably. Yes, laugh at me if you want to because I am now the foodie who cannot eat street food back home without falling sick. Another thing is that one does not get Indian street food in the restaurants here. So I have resorted to cooking my favorite dishes at home. The final dish although tasty doesn’t taste as great as it does in India. The positive side being I can eat as much as I want without falling sick (Yippeee).
Pav Bhaji is an iconic street food across Mumbai. Having Pav bhaji with a huge dollop of butter at “Cannon” opposite CST station was almost like a pilgrimage when I was growing up. It is nothing but a mish mash of different vegetables sautéed in a very special blend of spices served with soft Buttered Pav or Bread.
I also love making Pav Bhaji when guests and friends are coming over as it is a one pot dish and a real party food. My version of pav bhaji takes just over an hour to cook and is a lighter version as I don’t smother it in Butter (mind you the butter adds to the flavor especially Amul butter which again is not available in Australia. I also add beetroot for extra colour and flavour. The bhaji lasts in the fridge for atleast a week and is really delicious. A favorite of ours at home.
For the Bhaji
2 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Vegetable oil
3 tomatoes, blanched in hot water and pureed
½ cup green peas
1 large green capsicum finely chopped
4 large potatoes, boiled, peeled, and mashed
1 beetroot boiled or roasted, peeled, and pureed. You can puree the beetroot with the tomatoes
2 Carrots boiled and finely chopped
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 Onions finely chopped
2 tsp red chilli powder
3 – 4 tsp pav bhaji masala – MDH or Everest are popular brands that I use
Salt to taste
2 tsp Turmeric powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly chopped coriander
For the Pav:
Dinner rolls/Pav both Coles & Woolworths stock them
Butter to toast
Pav Bhaji masala to sprinkle on the pav
For the Garnish:
Finely chopped Onions
Freshly chopped coriander
In a large wok or kadhai, add the vegetable oil and heat. Then add the ginger garlic paste and chopped onions and cook till the onions are translucent.
Add 1 tsp Pav bhaji masala and 1 tsp red chilli powder and then add the Capsicum and cook for 5 minutes on a medium flame.
Add the carrots and cook for a further 5 minutes. Now add the Tomato & Beetroot puree and mix. Cook till the oil starts to separate.
Add the remaining Pav Bhaji, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, and salt.
Then add the mashed potatoes and mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup of water and cook on a low flame for 15 minutes.
Add the Butter and green peas and cook till the Peas are mushy. Sprinkle juice of 1 Lemon and freshly chopped coriander.
To toast the pav, take a flat pan or tawa and turn on the heat. Add the butter & pav bhaji masala and then coat the pav in this mixture, allowing the bread to toast. Do this for the remaining pavs.
Serve the pav with lemon wedges, chopped onion, hot bhaji that is sprinkled with Coriander and butter.