March 1, 2015

Veggielicious Pav Bhaji

Pav bhaji is an Indian street food which has origins in Maharashtra, the coastal state of India. Bhaji just means a vegetable side dish, while Pav interestingly has a Portuguese connection. Pav means bread in Portuguese and this connection dates back to the time they were present in Maharashtra during the colonial time before the British. Pav bhaji itself is recorded to be originated as a quick lunch for mill workers in Bombay (present day Mumbai), where they did not have long lunch breaks for a full course meal. Nowadays this is so popular that anywhere in the world where you have a reasonable Indian population, you might find a food cart or small food joint which sells Pav Bhaji. If you go to an Indian get-together you are more likely to find it as part of the spread. 

Like all other dishes which get a face-lift in the Quick'n'Healthy kitchen, this has also gone thru some healthy customization. Though I don't really dislike potato, I consider it more as a carb than a vegetable. Hence I make the bhaji with winter squash or yams. I also alter the cooking process a little  bit so that all vegetables are cooked just enough and not over processed. The key to the bhaji is not the vegetables that go into it, but it is fresh pav bhaji masala. I use homemade pav bhaji masala and it does the trick. With the fresh masala, it tastes so much better than the store brought masala which is more often stale and does not have the fresh smell. Now you have the bhaji with freshly baked whole wheat pav buns to make it completely your own :-). Top it with home made ghee or butter, and enjoy Pav Bhaji to your heart's content.

Whole wheat pav- Ingredients:
  • Whole wheat pastry flour - 1 1/2 cups
  • Warm water - 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs
  • Coconut palm sugar - 1 Tbs
  • Active dry yeast - 1 tsp
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Sea salt - 3/4 tsp
  • Mix yeast and sugar in warm water and set aside for 5 minutes till it is frothy.
  • Add this along with melted coconut oil, salt to the flour. Mix everything well to form a dough.
  • Knead well for about 10 minutes. Apply a little melted coconut oil on top and cover with a plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for about an hour till the dough is doubled in volume.
  • Punch the dough, divide into 6 equal parts. Make balls out of each part and arrange in a baking tray keeping about an inch distance between each. Keep in a warm place for about an hour so that the balls double in size once again. 
  • Preheat oven at 400 deg F and place the baking tray in the middle rack and bake for 12-15 minutes. 
  • Brush each hot pav (bun) with a pat of ghee or coconut oil.
  • Serve warm with freshly made warm bhaji.

  • Butternut squash - 2 cups (chopped) 
  • Green beans - 1 cup  (chopped)
  • Carrot - 1 cup (chopped)
  • Onion - 1 cup (chopped)
  • Tomato - 1 cup (chopped)
  • Homemade pav bhaji masala - 2-3 Tbs 
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Chilly powder - if you need extra hot
  • Start cooking butternut squash with 1 cup of water. Cook covered for about 10 minutes or till cooked half way thru.
  • Add carrot and beans and continue cooking till beans and carrots are cooked half way thru.
  • Add onions and tomatoes and cook till they soft. 
  • Add the spices and continue cooking stirring frequently taking care not to burn the mix.
  • Continue cooking till everything cooked well and slightly mashed. 
  • Adjust seasoning and remove from flame. 
  • Serve with optional garnish of ghee, chopped cilantro and freshly squeezed lemon juice. 
  • Enjoy with freshly baked pav buns!!

  • Instead of butternut squash you can use, sweet potato, garnet/purple yams or plantains. 
  • Carrots and beans can also be substituted with other choice of vegetables.

Homemade pav bhaji masala: 
  • Black cardamom - 4
  • Coriander seeds - 4 Tbs
  • Cumin seeds - 2 Tbs
  • Black pepper - 2 Tbs
  • Fennel seeds - 1 1/2 Tbs
  • Whole red chilly - 5-6 (I used south Indian variety) 
  • Cinnamon - 1/2 of a stick (about 10 small pieces) 
  • Dry mango powder (amchur) - 2 Tbs
  • Dry roast everything except amchur on medium heat till a nice aroma comes out of the spices. 
  • Switch off, add amchur and mix well. Let it cool.
  • Powder using a coffee/spice grinder. 
  • Store in an air tight container. 
  • Add to pav bhaji or any other dishes that you would want to spice up a little bit. :)

Recipe source for the masala powder: 

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