Fig. 1. Pav Bhaji
A real crowd pleaser too! Easy to make and scale up for larger numbers of people, and the best part is... it also clears up my refrigerator and pantry. I have rarely "planned" to make pav bhaji. Pav bhaji means unexpected guests! When someone suddenly calls up on a weekend and says "Hey, want to meet up for a buffet lunch?" and we groan.. not buffet.. and offer to make pav bhaji at our place. ;)
I always have onions and potatoes handy, as well as carrots in the refrigerator. Pav bhaji is the gift-of-life to all the spare, leftover vegetables in the refrigerator. Any vegetables that are left over in small amounts - a handful of green-beans, a fistful of peas, small amounts of cauliflower, that solitary capsicum.. all roll into a big pot, mash-mash-mash and we make pav bhaji.
We usually make do with ordinary bread, but occasionally we will pop over to the store to grab real "pav" or at least "water rolls" if they are available. I find water rolls work reasonably as a substitute for pav. Since I have started blog-hopping I have discovered a host of people who make their own pavs - for instance Fantasy Cooking, Jugalbandi, Spice-Club, One Hot Stove and Enjoy Indian Food . So those would be something for me to keep in mind if I get into baking with yeast in future (the woman with a half-clean pantry does not buy yeast till she is confident she will have the time and opportunity to use it in at least 3 different dishes).
The recipe I use usually for Pav Bhaji is...... the-one-on-the-box!! This is what I routinely make and is embedded in my spinal reflexes. Decent recipe. And honestly I had never paid too much attention to which pav bhaji masala I use. It happens to be Everest quite by fluke. Which brings me to note that another pav bhaji recipe to keep in mind is Nupur's Sukh Sagar Pav Bhaji. She expressly recommends Everest, skips onions (which is unusual), and her recipe is quite well spoken-for in the Indian-food blogging world. So I certainly will try that too in future.
The recipe I post today is from the Everest Pav Bhaji Masala Box:
Onions - 3 finely chopped (keep one aside for sprinkling on the bhaji just while serving).
Tomatoes - 1 large or 2 small, finely chopped
Garlic - about 3 large pods, peeled and finely chopped (or use ginger-garlic paste)
Red chili powder - 1 tablespoon or to taste
Pav Bhaji Masala - 1 tablespoon or more as desired (happen to have used Everest brand here)
-- In case anyone needs, there is a recipe for Pav Bhaji Masala here. I have never tried making it at home.
Salt - to taste
Vegetables to be cooked and chopped:
Potatoes - 3 medium
Green beans + carrots + peas + cauliflower + capsicum - about 3 cups in all. Add or subtract any neutral-ish vegetable here.
1) Saute finely chopped onions and garlic in oil.
2) Add chopped tomatoes, salt, pav bhaji masala, chilli powder. Cook well.
3) Add chopped, pre-cooked vegetables, more salt (for the vegetables), mix and mash well.
4) When well mashed, add water and blend well with the mixture. Should be coarsely mashed, and "cake-batter" type consistency. Boil till whole mixture gets well cooked.
Do sprinkle chopped onions, coriander and dry garlic chutney on the bhaji when serving. Today I have skipped the garlic chutney here. And I have added a bit too much chopped onion on top. I love onions. There is no pav bhaji without raw onions for me!!
Serve with butter-toasted bread/pav. Could toast the bread with some dry garlic chutney (I should post a recipe for this in future). When toasting many many breads for a big crowd, I just butter the pavs, arrange them on a cookie sheet, and pop them in the oven at 350F for 5-10 minutes, then flip them and 5-10 minutes more.
When I started out making this dish, I thought, good this will clear up left-overs in my refrigerator.. and then I will use Nupur's recipe and send this to Blog bites. But while actually cooking, I was physically on Earth, mentally on Pluto and I forgot all about actually following Nupur's recipe!! As per my default setting, I made the same box-recipe in my head. And it was only when I started writing the post did it strike me that I had forgotten all about using a recipe from a blog!! Duh!
Oh well.. even standard Pav Bhaji deserves a post! A good post!! My guests were thrilled with their "Bombay junk-food experience", and my freezer and crisper are both somewhat clean after this session! As a bonus, the pic is not half bad either. ;)
I will make Nupur's Sukh Sagar Pav Bhaji another day...
Thanks for reading! Have a great day!