Pav bhaji

7 Oct

Pav bhaji is one of those dishes you need to try for yourself to discover how satisfying it is.

I first encountered pav bhaji at a street food market. After doing a complete circuit of the food on offer, I opted for what looked to be a curry sandwich.

The bun (pav) was toasted, buttered and warm. The curry (bhaji) was thick, mashed — almost spreadable — and topped with red onion, coriander leaves, and a pat of butter.

It was utterly delicious and spot-hitting.I now make pav bhaji at home regularly – it’s a become a family favourite. I use different veggies (whatever I have in the house), but this is my most consistent combination.

Pav bhaji
(serves 4)

  • 2 good sized potatoes (about 400g), cubed
  • half a medium cauliflower (about 400g), broken into florets
  • 2 Tb (30g) butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 large aubergines (about 400g), cubed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder, or to taste
  • 1 Tb tomato paste
  • 2 cups (450g) passata
  • 8 soft dinner rolls
  • fresh coriander, chopped red onion, lemon wedges and extra butter, to serve
  1. Cook the potatoes in salted water until almost tender.
  2. Add the cauliflower and cook five minutes more. Drain (reserving some of the water) and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over a medium-low flame.
  4. Add the onion and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook a few minutes more.
  5. Stir in the aubergines. Add the cumin, coriander, garam masala, salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  6. Stir through the tomato paste, then add the passata. Increase the heat a bit and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking.
  7. Stir in the potatoes and cauliflower and cook for another fifteen minutes. The mixture should be quite thick, but if necessary, thin it with a bit of the cooking water.
  8. Remove the mixture from the heat and mash a bit with a potato masher. (You don’t want to turn it into a paste – the individual vegetables should still be recognisable.)
  9. Cut the rolls in half, butter them and toast under the grill for a few minutes.
  10. Serve each person a bowl of bhaji topped with a big pat of butter, and hot rolls, red onions, coriander and lemon wedges on the side.

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