Mumbai has a ton of good street food and is a city of a millions of street hawkers. I was lucky to grow up eating all of it! Right from vada pavs to pav bhajis, to chaats, to dosas to name a few! Mumbai is known for its quintessential street food, where you can stand and eat, starting from breakfast to lunch to snacks to dinner to even dessert! If you ever get a chance to try this experience, do not miss it, but make sure that your tummy can handle it ! J When I go back to visit, I have to make pit stops at all my favorite places. So I am starting a series called the Mumbai Street Food Series, to show you all the deliciousness I grew up eating right from my school days to college days that takes me back to fond memories of my childhood with beloved family and friends. I will cover some favorite Gujarati snacks as well, because that is the region that my grandparents hail from, and the home food I grew up with, and I that I can cook in my sleep!
I am starting off the series with the famous Mumbai Pav Bhaji! This is probably one of the very first few dishes that I learnt to make from my mom, and that my brother learnt to make as well, before he left India to go to study his Masters in Boston. It is one of the easiest dishes to make, with a lot of good vegetables, and only 2 spices to play with! The pav bhaji that you have on the streets is full of butter! Even the pav has so much butter, which actually makes it that much more tastier. I am putting less butter than what you get outside, but the taste is still vibrant and absolutely delicious! If you are vegan you could also use vegan butter to go with this dish.
I remember so many nights going out with my friends, AFTER dinner, driving around the streets of Mumbai, looking to eat some good street food. I would pick up my friends from their homes, and we would drive to this place, which was 10 minutes from my home, and hang out there till midnight, eating pav bhaji, and other snacks, along with fresh fruit juices, laughing and talking and simply having a good time together! We have so many fond memories built over food, and when we eat these foods, we remember our loved ones even more. Many of the street vendors are open till after midnight, and that is one of the several reasons that makes this city so vibrant and lively!
Pav means bread or dinner rolls and Bhaji means mixed vegetables. The mixed vegetables are simply vegetables that have been boiled or pressure cooked, cooled and then mashed to make a mush. The vegetables are then cooked in onions, garlic, tomatoes, lots of tomatoes, spices which are essentially pav bhaji masala, and red chilli powder. Cilantro and lemon juice are added in the end to finish off the dish. You could add more butter at this stage if you want to, but I prefer to not add any additional butter. Simply toast the bread or dinner rolls on a saute pan, with some more butter. Garnish the bhaji on your plate with onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lime/lemon and this wonderful dish is ready to eat! I pair this spicy dish with a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc from Meadowcroft Wines, based in Sonoma, and their wines are always such a breath of fresh air. This white wine pairs really well with pav bhaji, and enhances the spiciness.
This dish soaks up all the spices really well the next day that it tastes even better the following day! I make a good quantity so that we can eat this meal 2 days in a row! My family loves it as well, and I am glad my kids are getting a taste of the food I grew up with through me.
If you have any questions while making this dish, please feel free to email me, I would love to help out and let you have the best experience with this dish! The pav bhaji masala is available on Amazon.com at the link here.
Please do not forget to tag me if you make pav bhaji and/or leave a comment in the blog post below! I would really appreciate it!
Cheers until next time!
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 5 medium white or red potatoes
- 1 cup cauliflower cut into medium florets
- 1 cup green peas(frozen or fresh)
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into medium cubes
- 1 green bell pepper cut into tiny diced cubes
- 1 medium red onion cut into tiny diced cubes
- 3-4 garlic cloves grated
- 3 medium tomatoes diced small
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup cilantro
- 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
- 1-2 tsp salt or as desired
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2-3 heapful tbsp pav bhaji masala(found on amazon.com – check Everest or Badshah brands - start with 2 tbsp, taste and then add more if required)
- 1-2 tsp kashrmiri red chilli powder
- ½ cup Cilantro
- 1 cup red onion diced small
- Lemon or lime wedges
- 2 tbsp unsalted or salted butter on the top
- In a pressure cooker, add the potatoes, peas, cauliflower and carrots. Add water to cover the vegetables by about 2 inches. At medium to high heat, let the mixture pressure cook for about 4-5 whistles. If you do not have a pressure cooker, add the vegetables along with water upto about 3-4 inches in a large saucepan and cook it on medium heat for about half hour, or until the vegetables are tender to the touch of a fork, especially the potatoes.
- Drain out the water into medium bowl and reserve it. Let the vegetables cool. Once cool, peel the skin off the potatoes. Mash all the vegetables completely.
- In a medium to large saucepan, on medium heat, add the butter. Wait till it melts. Now add the red onions and garlic and saute till golden brown, about 5 minutes. Now add in the tomatoes and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in the red or green bell peppers and saute for another 4 minutes. Add in the tomato paste, salt, kashmiri red chilli powder, pav bhaji masala and saute for a minute. The butter will start releasing from the spice mixture.
- At this stage, add in the mashed vegetables, lemon juice and 3 cups of the reserved water and mix well. Now reduce the heat to less than medium and let it simmer, stirring it occasionally for about 10-12 minutes. Add in the cilantro and dried fenugreek leaves and mix well. Taste to make sure that the salt and pav bhaji masala is enough. You can add 1 tsp at a time of the pav bhaji masala to make sure that it tastes good and spicy.
- You can eat this by itself or with sour dough slices, or dinner rolls called pav in India! Essentially put a little butter into a sliced dinner roll, and cook it on the pan, butter side down, till it browns ever so slightly.
- When serving the mixed vegetable or Bhaji, garnish it with cilantro, red onions and a squeeze of lime or lemon!