It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
A popular Indian street food, pav bhaji is surprisingly also suited to colder climates -- it's everything comfort food should be. Bread (pav) fried in butter is served with vegetables (bhaji) cooked with fragrant spices that will make your kitchen smell like an Indian market -- in a good way.
Although it's customary to mash the vegetables (your potato masher will do the trick), I like to let the vegetables retain some of their shape. When I'm feeling brave enough for an extra kick of flavor, I mince a small onion and sprinkle it on top of the finished dish along with some chopped cilantro. And if I'm feeling extra indulgent, I top the bhaji with a dollop of -- yes, more! -- butter before serving.
If you have access to an Indian grocery store, I suggest you pick up a couple of sticks of Amul butter for this recipe. Amul butter is the most popular brand of butter in India, and any Indian worth his or her salt will tell you that it's the best butter in the world -- French butter be damned. If you don't have access to an Indian grocery store, consider buying the pav bhaji masala online, or follow a recipe (a quick Google will yield a ton of options) to mix the spice blend that makes this dish so distinctive.
The place you can cut corners is with the pav. Because pav is essentially a bun made from white bread, feel free to use hot dog buns cut crosswise or dinner rolls.
For the bhaji:
350 grams cauliflower, chopped into small florets
125 grams carrot, finely chopped
300 grams potato, finely chopped
25 grams butter, plus more for serving if desired (Preferably Amul butter)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
150 grams onion, finely chopped
4 cloves galic, crushed
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
500 grams tomato, finely chopped
1 teaspoon pav bhaji masala
1/2 teaspoon black salt
Salt to taste
1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
Juice from 1 lime
For the pav:
15 hot dog buns cut crosswise or dinner rolls cut through the middle
75 grams butter
In a large pot, add the cauliflower, carrots, and potatoes. Pour enough water in to cover the vegetables by an inch and bring it to a boil. Once the water boils, lower the heat and let the vegetables simmer until they are very soft, about 25 minutes.
In a large pan, sauté the onion and garlic in butter and oil for roughly five minutes, then add chili powder and tumeric. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the oil separates, then add the cooked vegetables and mix in the pav bhaji masala and black salt. Mash the vegetables using a heat-proof spatula or potato masher. Let the vegetables cook for another five minutes, adding salt if needed.
While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the pav by generously adding butter to the exposed side of the buns, then fry them buttered side down on a pan over medium flame. When golden brown, flip them over and fry for another two minutes, then set aside.
Just before serving, add cilantro, a pat of butter (optional but recommended!), and lime juice to the dish. Serve with the warm pav and dig in.
Photos by Aysha | The Malabar Tea Room