Indulge in the quintessential Mumbai Pav Bhaji in the comfort of your home. It is a spiced mashed vegetable dish served with butter-crusted pav, diced onions, lemon wedges, and butter. This dish truly embodies the spirit of Bombay! If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out on a finger-licking experience!
About my Homemade Mumbai Pav Bhaji
As someone who grew up in Mumbai, Pav Bhaji is a dish that is very close to my heart. I have made it countless times and each time, it tastes just as authentic as the street vendors in Mumbai. What I love about this dish is that all the ingredients are easily available at grocery stores. While the list may look elaborate, it’s just basic vegetables and basic spices along with a special ingredient.
Street vendors in Mumbai use Amul Butter, which isn’t available in the UK, but I find that using Lurpak Butter in the UK comes closest to getting the flavours right.
What is Pav Bhaji?
Pav Bhaji is a popular Indian street food that originated in Mumbai. It is a delicious medley of mashed vegetables cooked with spices and served with buttered eggless dinner rolls (ladi pav), salted butter, diced onion and lemon wedges.
- Onion: Use finely diced onion for texture and flavour in pav bhaji. Red onions or Bombay white onions.
- Tomatoes: My preference is vine-ripened red tomatoes, but you can also use canned diced or crushed tomatoes. Tomatoes are the main ingredient for the tangy taste in the pav bhaji.
- Ginger garlic: They are essential for the pav bhaji masala. They add flavour, depth, and aroma to the dish. It’s best to use fresh ginger and garlic to get the most flavour.
- Chilli: Use green chillies and Kashmiri red chillies to give a nice balance of heat and flavour. The green chillies give a fresh heat, while the Kashmiri red chillies add a rich, deep red colour without being too spicy.
- Vegetables: I like to use the standard set of vegetables in pav bhaji – potatoes, green bell pepper, cauliflower, carrots, and green peas. These vegetables are boiled and mashed together to make the bhaji (gravy) for the pav.
- Butter: Add loads of salted butter in pav bhaji, and it’s what gives the dish its richness and flavour. My preference is Amul butter, but if it’s not available, you can use Lurpak butter or any other brand of salted butter.
- Fresh coriander: Add chopped fresh coriander for fresh flavours in the dish. Use as garnish on top of the pav bhaji.
- Lemon: lemon juice adds a tangy brightness to the dish. Add a small amount of lemon juice to the bhaji while it’s cooking, and more over the top of the dish when serving.
How to serve Pav Bhaji?
To serve Pav Bhaji, place two ladlefuls of the bhaji on a plate and then top it with salted butter. For an authentic Mumbai-style experience, serve the Pav Bhaji with buttered dinner rolls, red onions, lemon wedges, and fresh coriander.
How to store leftover Pav Bhaji
Leftover Pav Bhaji can be stored in the fridge or freezer for future use. In my opinion, Pav Bhaji tastes best the next day, so I always make a large batch and store it in the fridge. Here are some tips for storing and reheating leftover Pav Bhaji:
Fridge: Place the Pav Bhaji in an airtight container and store it in the fridge. It can be stored for up to 4 days.
Freezer: If you don’t plan on eating the Pav Bhaji within 4 days, it can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place it in an airtight container or freezer bag and label it with the date. To thaw, simply transfer it to the fridge overnight.
Reheat: To reheat leftover Pav Bhaji, heat it in a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Alternatively, it can be reheated in the microwave by placing it in a microwave-safe container and heating it on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t forget to garnish with chopped onions, fresh coriander, and a squeeze of lemon juice for an added burst of flavour!
Tips to make the Best Mumbai Pav Bhaji
- Avoid using artificial colour and follow the technique mentioned above instead.
- Use fresh ingredients for best results.
- Add a generous amount of salted butter for a delicious Pav Bhaji.
- Serve the bhaji with butter-crusted ladi pav, finely diced onions, a lemon wedge, and a dollop of butter.
- Toast the Ladi Pav/eggless dinner rolls with salted butter before serving.
- You can also sprinkle pav bhaji masala on the pav bun, but it’s optional.
- Do not substitute with curry powder or garam masala spice blend for this recipe. It will not taste the same as Pav Bhaji.
Frequently asked questions
How to get Red Colour in the Pav Bhaji?
To get the red colour in Pav Bhaji, instead of artificial colors, use Kashmiri red chili soaked with garlic in warm water for 15-30 mins, and grind them into a fine paste. Alternatively, add a small piece of beetroot to the vegetables for cooking to get a natural and vibrant colour.
What Vegetables can I use for Authentic Pav Bhaji?
Original Pav Bhaji uses a set of vegetables to achieve the authentic flavours. I have listed them below.
- Tomatoes -Use red vine tomatoes for a tangy flavour, or canned diced/crushed tomatoes
- Onion – Finely dice onions for the right texture, either red or Bombay white onions work well.
- Potatoes – Boil, peel, and smash potatoes to give body to the Pav Bhaji
- Cauliflower– Add cauliflower for a unique texture and grated cauliflower for added texture
- Green pepper, also known as capsicum, is important for an authentic flavor
- Other vegetables – Carrots and peas blend well and make a great addition
- Optional vegetables like mushrooms, beetroot, kale, spinach can be added to the mashed vegetable medley but it won’t be considered the original Mumbai Pav Bhaji.
Variations of Pav Bhaji recipe
- The original Mumbai Pav Bhaji recipe uses a specific set of vegetables as mentioned above.
- Jain Pav Bhaji: It has got no onion, garlic, or root vegetables
- Paneer Pav Bhaji: Add Crumbled paneer towards the end of cooking.
- Cheese Pav Bhaji: Add cheddar cheese just before serving.
- Mushroom Pav Bhaji: Add Sautéed mushrooms while cooking
- Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Pav Bhaji: There is a recipe on the blog with a video for Instant Pot Pav Bhaji.
- Pav Bhaji Oats: Add Oats before completion.
- Vegan Pav Bhaji: Use vegan butter or oil and toast the dinner rolls / pav on the pan or in a toaster.
- Keto Pav Bhaji: Made with cauliflower, green bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, ginger garlic, butter, and pav bhaji masala.
What brand of Pav Bhaji masala to use?
Pav Bhaji Masala is the special ingredient that gives Mumbai Pav Bhaji its authentic street food flavours There are several brands selling Pav Bhaji Masala Powder in the Superstores and Indian Stores, including my favorite brand, Everest Pav Bhaji Masala, and my friends’ favorite, Badshah Bombay Bhaji Pav Masala.
You can make Pav Bhaji Masala Powder at home using the recipe below, even though store-bought masala powder is readily available.
Homemade Pav Bhaji Masala Powder Recipe below
To make pav bhaji masala powder at home, you will need
10 Dried Red Chillies,4 Tbsp Coriander Seeds,2 Tbsp Cumin Seeds,1 Tbsp Fennel Seeds,4 Black Cardamom,1″ Cinnamon Stick,1/2 Tsp Cloves Powder,3 Tsp Turmeric Powder,1 Tsp Ground Ginger Powder,3 Tsp Black Pepper Powder,1 Tbsp Black Salt,3 Tsp Amchur Powder
In a non stick pan, add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chillies, fennel seeds, black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick and roast on medium flame for 3 minutes. Cool the mixture completely. Transfer the cooled spices to a blender jar and grind it until fine.
Stir in the remaining spices and store the Pav Bhaji Masala in an air tight container to retain the freshness for long.
If you love this Mumbai street food recipe, you will also love
Homemade Mumbai Pav Bhaji Recipe below
- 5 tbsp Salted Butter
- 1 tbsp Oil
- 5 Cloves Garlic chopped
- 3 Kasmiri Red Chilli
- 2 tsp ginger diced
- 2 Medium onion
- 2 Green Chilli finely sliced
- 4 Medium Tomato diced
- 3 Medium Potatoes
500g Mixed Vegetables – Cauliflower, green bell pepper, green peas & carrot
- 2 cup Cauliflower florets 120g
- ¾ cup Green Pepper 150g
- ¾ cup Green Peas 115g
- ¾ cup Carrot 115g
- 3 tbsp Pav Bhaji masala I have used an Everest one
- 3/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1/2 tsp Chilli Powder
- 50 g Salted Butter
- Salt To Taste
- 3-4 tsp Lemon Juice
- 3 tbsp Fresh coriander leaves diced
- 4 Lemon wedges
- 8 Ladi paav
- 10 g Salted Butter
- ¼ Cup Onions diced
- In a pressure cooker, cook cauliflower, peas, carrots, and green pepper together. Once cooked, set aside.
- Soak Kashmiri Red Chilli and garlic in 1/2 cup of hot water for 15-30 minutes. Then, grind them into a fine paste and set it aside.
- In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter. Add onions and sauté until they turn light brown. While frying the onions, add a pinch of salt to help evaporate the water and fry quickly.
- Add the red chilli-garlic paste, ginger, and green chillies to the pan and sauté for 30-40 seconds.
- Add the diced tomatoes and cook on medium heat for three to four minutes, stirring continuously or until oil separates from the masala.
- Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and 1 teaspoon of Pav Bhaji Masala Powder to the mixture.
- Add the cooked vegetables and mashed potatoes to the mixture along with 1-1.5 glasses of water. Use a potato smasher to press the vegetables a few times until they are completely smashed. Bring it to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. Add the rest of the Pav Bhaji Masala Powder and salt now.
- Cook the mixture on medium heat for 2-3 minutes and stir continuously.
- Add lemon juice.
- In a tawa, heat some butter. Slice the ladi pav horizontally into two and pan-fry them in butter for half a minute, pressing two or three times, or until the pav is crisp and light brown.
- Garnish the Pav Bhaji with chopped coriander leaves, butter, and serve hot with pav accompanied by remaining chopped onion and lemon wedges.
Updated: This recipe was first published on 8th August 2009, updated on 24th March 2019