One-Pot Wonders

Instant Pot Pav Bhaji

February 11, 2022
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Photo by WarriorInTheKitchen
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Pav bhaji consists of “bhaji” (a mixture of vegetables including potatoes, eggplant, and/or zucchini, peas, onions, etc.) seasoned with flavorful Indian spices like red chili powder (laal marchu), turmeric (hardar), and paprika. —WarriorInTheKitchen

Test Kitchen Notes

Pav bhaji is a spicy mix of vegetables flavored in a thick gravy and is most definitely a street food favorite. It comes together quickly thanks to using a pressure cooker. What could take hours of simmering time can be done in minutes. If you've got an abundance of vegetables after a trip to the farmers' market, this pav bhaji recipe is for you. It features a variety of fresh and frozen vegetables. The fresh ones include onions, roma tomatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, and potatoes (you can use any kind of potato you'd like). It also calls for 2 cups of frozen mixed veggies, so you can use those up as well if you've got some and are wondering what to do with them.

Plenty of spices bring tons of depth and excitement to this dish. From bay leaves to cinnamon, garlic, ginger, paprika, turmeric, pav bhaji masala, and garam masala, each bite is going to cause smiles of delight for you and your guests. All you have to do is sauté the onions and tomatoes in the Instant Pot, add the spices, and cook the gravy for about 5 minutes. Add all the vegetables, let steam for 12 minutes, and then use a potato masher or immersion blender to mash all the veggies. Serve with buttered and toasted bread or naan. For a low-carb and gluten-free option, you can serve on romaine or butter lettuce. Also garnish with some chopped cilantro, lemon juice, and finely chopped onions for a colorful finishing touch. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 whole dry chiles
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped, plus more for serving
  • 2 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons pav bhaji masala
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 medium potatoes, coarsely cubed
  • 1 head of cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • Chopped cilantro and fresh lemon juice, for serving
  1. Press "Saute" mode on an Instant Pot. Heat the oil, chiles, bay leaves, and cinnamon. Add the onions and roma tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic, ginger, paprika, pav bhaji masala, chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala; season with salt. Add 1 cup water and mix well to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, cauliflower, and eggplant, and toss with the gravy. Add 1 cup of water and mix well; the liquid level should be about three-quarters to the top of the veggies, so adjust as necessary.
  3. Close the lid of the Instant Pot and press "Cancel" and then press "Steam." Adjust the time to 12 minutes. Set the valve to "Sealing" mode.
  4. Once the Instant Pot completes the cycle, it will beep. Either switch the valve to the "Venting" position (be careful as steam will come out of the top), or manually vent. Carefully open the lid once safe to do so.
  5. Using a potato masher or immersion blender, mash the veggies to incorporate with the gravy.
  6. Divide the pav bhaji among bowls. Garnish with the cilantro, lemon juice, and onions.

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