Pav bhaji is a smooth melange of variety of mashed vegetables cooked in lots of butter and pav bhaji masala powder. Typically served with warm and fluffy butter toasted pav.
Delightful yummy dish which will Never Ever Fail to please you, you bet!
Here's how to make the best pav bhaji recipe at home on stove top in pan and in Instant Pot as well as in pressure cooker in just 30 minutes.
What is Pav Bhaji?
If you ever get to visit Mumbai and looking out to enjoy the real street food there. One of the most popular fast food names you might hear is Pav Bhaji.
In short, Pav or Pau refers to soft buns or dinner rolls. And, Bhaji is a special mixed vegetable gravy.
It is a famous Maharashtrian street food that is popular not only in every part of our country but world wide.
Known as king of fast food, it is a unique and super delicious dish of variety of vegetables. Particularly, cooked in lots of butter with special spicy Pav bhaji masala.
Quintessentially, it is served with special soft bread called pav.
These pavs are toasted in lots of butter. And then served with the bhaaji which is again topped with butter, onions, lemon wedges and cilantro.
Although, it is popular all over the country and even overseas. But, we get the authentic Pau Bhaji only in Mumbai (Bombay). 🙂
If you visit the streets of Mumbai, you will notice that bhaji is especially made or assembled on a big iron tawa or flat griddle.
The colour in gravy which you see here is purely from Kashmiri red chilli powder. I do not add food color here.
However, the street side stalls do use red food colour to deepen the colour of the bhaji.
Wiki says, pav bhaji dish was invented in 1850's to provide fast and filling lunch to the textile mills or factory workers.
Then, gradually it gained popularity and served on street joints and carts.
Further, it was served in restaurants and big hotels across the city and then the country.
I am sharing this fool proof recipe that tastes exactly like the ones from Juhu Beach or Girgaum Chowpatty.
Vegetables you can use in bhaji
The bhaji basically consist of combination of boiled mix vegetables, which we cook in butter along with other ingredients.
Significantly, a particular combination of vegetables goes in the recipe of Mumbai pav bhaji. They are potatoes, cauliflower, capsicum and green peas.
You may also add some chopped beetroots for the purpose to give deep red colour to the dish. I do consider adding it to the recipe. However, you can skip if do not like it.
But, if you really want to go for more add-ons for a twist, then, consider adding these veggies to the recipe.
They can be carrots, cabbage, bell peppers of any color, french beans, egg plant (Brinjal/Baigan).
However, it won't be the Bombay street style bhaji then, but just a normal mixed vegetable gravy.
Jain recipe do not use potatoes, onions, garlic or any root vegetables or tuber. So, the rest of the ingredients are same.
Which is the best pav bhaaji masala powder to use?
In the aisle of supermarkets, you will find, wide variety and brands of masala.
As it is always important to use best one if you are buying from the stores. I would suggest you to use Everest brand of pav bhaji masala powder.
In your part of the world, you will find it easily in the Indian stores.
But, as homemade spice powders are the best, here's the pav bhaji masala that you can make at home.
- 2 tablespoons, Cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon, Fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons, Coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons, Black peppercorns
- 4 Cinnamon sticks of 1 inch each
- 7 - 8 Dried Kashmiri Chilies or 2 tablespoons Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
- 2 Black cardamoms
- 13 - 15 Cloves
- 1 Bay leaf
- Star Anise
- ½ teaspoon, Turmeric Powder
- 2 teaspoon, Dry Ginger Powder (Sonth)
- 1 tablespoon, Dry Mango Powder (Amchur)
- ½ teaspoon, Black salt
- ½ teaspoon, Regular or Pink Salt
Note : If you are using red chilli powder, then add later while grinding. And, if using dried red chilies then dry roast them along with the rest of the whole spices.
Add all the whole spices in a pan, and roast them slightly. Take it off the heat and cool completely.
Transfer the roasted spices along with the powders, salt in a blender jar or coffee grinder. Grind to a fine powder.
Transfer the powder to a clean jar and store it in cool dark place. You can also put it in freezer, it will stay well upto a year.
The most important thing to keep in mind is, never compromise on the use of butter here.
Go on ahead with good amount of butter to get the best of the taste, the real street side flavours.
You can do the chopping of vegetables a day ahead and refrigerate it. This will save your time especially for school lunch box prep.
You can easily cook the bhaji in pressure cooker or instant pot next morning in straight 30 minutes.
Adjust the amount of chillies as per your liking.
Ever since my childhood, I have seen the use of amul butter only. But, now many brands of butter are available on the rack of the stores.
So, the butter can be of your choice for which brand and fat content to pick. Either a Low fat or Full Fat!
Please do not replace the pav bhaji masala with Garam Masala or any other masala powders.
You will see many people add ginger and garlic paste to the recipe. But, I prefer to add only garlic paste. Most of the street stalls in Mumbai mostly use garlic in the dish.
Do not skip to use kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves. It is one key secret to the best bhaaji.
Use fresh ingredients and firm ripe red tomatoes. Also, use very good quality of Kashmiri red chilli powder. You can also use tomato puree or canned tomatoes.
Generously, use chopped onions, blob of butter, lemon juice and coriander leaves to garnish the bhaji while serving.
Toast the pav or buns nicely in butter and then serve.
How to serve it?
Dish out the bhaji in a bowl, top it with the blob of a butter.
Sprinkle chopped onions, coriander leaves on the top.
Squeeze lemon generously on the bhaaji gravy. Enjoy it with buttered pav.
Serve a bit of extra chopped onions, coriander leaves and lemon wedges on the side.
Further, you can also serve bhaji with butter toasted breads or burger buns.
How to store it?
If you are planning to make it ahead of time for gathering or occasion, then you can store it in the fridge until serving.
Transfer the bhaji in a clean airtight box and keep it in the fridge. It stays well upto 3 days. All you need to do is re-heat and dress it with some more butter just before serving.
Follow the same if you have the leftovers.
Can we freeze the bhaji?
Yes, we can freeze it in a freezer easily for 2 months. Store it in a clean air tight container and freeze.
Whenever you want to serve it, just thaw it on a counter for few hours.
Then, reheat it with some butter, kasuri methi and bhaji masala powder or red chilli powder. You are good to go.
Can we make it vegan and gluten free?
Well, the bhaji is any way gluten free. But, for paav, dinner rolls or breads, you can go with the ones that is gluten free.
To make vegan version, use vegan butter of your choice instead of dairy butter.
How to make pav bhaji in 3 Ways?
The pressure cooker and instant pot method to make pav bhaji recipe works best when you are in super crunch of time.
Or when you have to make something really nice and quick in minutes, especially on sudden arrival of guests.
It is just the matter of 30 minutes! And you have a perfect one pot recipe without compromising on it's taste.
Method - 1 : Making it in the pan on stove top
To begin with, add 1 cup cauliflower florets, 1 and ¼ cup green peas and 1 medium sliced capsicum in a pressure cooker along with 1.5 cups water (photo 1)
Then, boil the veggies until soft and can be mashed. Add 2-3 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of paav bhaji masala and 1 teaspoon Kasuri Methi. Mix and mash well. Set it aside. Photo 2 and 3.
Then, in a pan or a kadhai, heat 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil together.
Once the oil and butter heats up, then add 1 tablespoon of garlic paste and 1 teaspoon green chilies (finely chopped or paste) and ¼ cup finely chopped capsicum. Photo 4.
After that, add onions and sauté on high until soft. Photo 5.
Now, add chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chili powder and remaining 3 tablespoons of bhaji masala and mix everything well. Photo 6.
Add salt and cook until tomatoes softens well and it starts releasing oil. Photo 7.
Then, add cooked mashed vegetables and mix. Mash using masher to get required consistency. Add little water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Check for salt. Photo 8.
Finally, add 1 teaspoon of kasuri methi and mix. Cook for another minute. If you wish, you may add some more blobs of butter.
Dish out and serve it with butter, chopped coriander leaves, chopped onions, lemon wedges and buttered pav.
Method - 2 : Making it in the pressure cooker
To make pav bhaji recipe in pressure cooker, follow the exact step by step pictorial method below.
You can use potato masher or immersion blender to mash the veggies. You can also add water if you do not like thick consistency of the gravy, check for seasonings.
Cook for 2-3 minute and you are done. Garnish and serve with toasted pav.
Method 3 : Making it in the Instant Pot
Here is how you can make pav bhaji recipe in the Instant Pot.
To begin with, Switch on the IP, place the inner pot and press sauté button. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil together. Photo 1.
Then add garlic paste, green chilies paste and chopped capsicum and sauté for 30 seconds. Photo 2.
Now, add chopped onions and sauté for 1 minute or until soft and pink. Photo 3.
Then, add chopped beetroot, chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of pav bhaaji masala and Kashmiri red chili powder. Sauté for another minute. Photo 4.
Note: If anything is stuck at the bottom then, add 1 tbsp of water and deglaze it. Deglazing will also help in avoiding the masalas to get burn.
Add potatoes, cauliflower and green peas, mix. Photo 5.
Add 1.5 cup of water and salt, stir once. Photo 6.
Close the pot with valve in sealing position, cancel sauté button and press manual/pressure cook button. Pressure cook the veggies for 10 minutes on high pressure. Photo 7.
Once the IP beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally until the silver pin drops. Carefully open the lid, and with the help of masher or immersion blender, smash the vegetables coarsely. Photo 8 and 9.
Switch on the sauté mode again, add kasuri methi, remaining butter and the bhaji masala, and check for the salt. Give it a quick mix ans simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Note : If you feel bhaji is too thick, then add little water and simmer.
How to fry the pav buns or rolls?
First, slit the paav (soft bread rolls or buns). Then, heat the tawa or a pan and melt butter on it.
Sprinkle some pav bhaji masala (optional step) but preferable.
Then, toast the pav or buns from both the sides.
Dish out the bhaji , garnish with blob of butter chopped coriander leaves, serve with buttered pav or buns chopped onions and lemon wedges on side.
Isn't it so easy to make the best one pot pav bhaji recipe at home now? Honestly, I prefer to make it in Instant Pot or Pressure cooker only.
The one pot method take so much of less time and effort. Plus, no compromise on taste at all.
So, guys, do try it yourself at home. And I am pretty sure there shall be no looking back.
Nowadays, adding cheese is also in trend. So, for cheesy twist, just add the grated cheese over the hot bhaji just before serving.
Add grated paneer to the veggies while cooking as well as while serving. You can use Paneer cubes also.
Though, the onions are one main ingredient that goes in the recipe, but sattvik recipe omits the onion and garlic both for no onion no garlic version.
No root or tuber vegetables, onion, garlic are added into Jain paav bhaaji. You may find at some places they do add raw banana instead.
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Pav Bhaji Recipe
- 5-6 tablespoons Butter divided
- 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Paste (or Minced Garlic)
- 1 teaspoon Green Chilies finely chopped or paste
- 1 cup Capsicum chopped
- 1.5 cups Onions finely chopped
- ¼-⅓ cup Beetroot (optional) chopped
- 2 cups Tomatoes finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons Pav Bhaji Masala divided
- 1 tablespoon Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- 4 Potatoes (350 grams)
- 1.5 cup Cauliflower Florets (approx 150 gms) florets
- 1 ¼ cup Green Peas fresh or frozen
- 1.5 cups Water
- Salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons Dried Fenugreek Leaves (kasuri methi)
- Butter as needed
- Pav or Dinner rolls or Buns
- Coriander Leaves chopped
- Onions chopped
- Lemon wedges
- Heat 3 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of oil together in the inner pot of Instant pot or traditional pressure cooker.
- Add garlic paste, green chili paste, chopped capsicum and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add chopped onions and sauté for 1 minute or until onions are soft and pink.
- Add chopped beetroot, tomatoes, Kashmiri red chilli powder and 2 tablespoons of paav bhaji masala powder. Sauté for another minute.
- Add potatoes, cauliflower and green peas, mix. Add 1.5 cups of water and salt to the pot and stir once.
- Close the pot with valve in sealing position, cancel sauté button and press manual/pressure cook button. Pressure cook the veggies for 10 minutes on high pressure. In a traditional pressure cooker, cook for 2-3 whistles on high flame and then simmer for 6-7 minutes on low heat.
- Once cooking is over, let the pressure release naturally.
- Carefully open the lid, and with the help of potato masher or immersion blender, smash the cooked vegetables coarsely.
- Switch on the sauté mode again in Instant Pot. (Switch on the heat of stove top for traditional pressure cooker method).
- Add the remaining butter, 3 tbsp of pav bhaaji masala. kasuri methi, and check for the salt. If you feel gravy is too thick, then add little water and allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes.
To fry the pav
- To make buttered pav, slit the pav first.
- Then, heat the tawa or pan and melt butter on it. Sprinkle some pav bhaaji masala (optional step). Then fry the pav from both the sides.
To serve it
- Dish out the ladlefull of bhaji on a serving plate and top it with a blob of butter and coriander leaves.
- Serve it with buttered pav along with chopped onions and lemon wedges on the side.
- Cups and spoons measure used in the recipe are as per the American standard.
- You can adjust the spiciness of the vegetable gravy as per to suit your taste. If you wish to make it mild, then reduce the amount of spice powders accordingly.
- Always use Kashmiri red chilli powder to enhance the colour of the dish. You can also use Cayenne or regular red chili powder. Alternatively, for good red colour in bhaji, consider adding a bit of red chilli paste.
- Adjust the consistency of the bhaji gravy as per your liking. Some like it dry and some like it to be with gravy. So go on ahead and add water accordingly to the gravy.
- You can add beetroot for deeper red colour. But do not add too much, ¼ to ⅓ cup is fine for the above measure. You can skip it too.
- You can serve it as a snacks, breakfast, lunch and even dinner.
- Do not compromise on butter, add it generously to the gravy as well as while serving.
- If you wish to make bhaji in oil, you can surely go ahead with it. However, the authentic taste of the paav bhaji from the streets of mumbai can be achieved only when cooked in butter.
- Kasuri Methi is key ingredient to enhance the flavour of the dish, so do not skip it.
- Always top the bhaji with loads of chopped onions, fresh cilantro, and squeeze the lemon generously to the best taste.
- To make this recipe vegan, replace dairy butter with vegan butter and proceed.
- In this recipe, I have not added any food colour, but if you wish to get brighter red color, you can add a pinch of red food color to the bhaji.
- To make this recipe on stove top in pan, please refer to the method 1 with detailed step by step photos in the post above.