Pav bhaji ….
Every household has its own recipe and a method to prepare this mix vegetable concoction and almost all recipes work. Unless one is a novice cook, you can solemnly go wrong with the flavours….
The dish originated very much in “Amchi Mumbai.” It’s need emerged in 1850’s as a fast lunch time option for hard-working textile mill workers. In mid 1850’s and late 1900’s there were close to 136 textile mills only in central parts of Mumbai giving its name “Girangoan” which loosely means ” mill village” and in these mills worked 6500 plus workers producing mainly cotton ….
To serve the prodigious number of people , food stall owners needed something which cooks fast, is filling and doesn’t make the workers sedentary or sluggish leading to the genisis of Bhaji and pav was chosen to be served as making heaps of rotis was impossible. Thus was born our very own Mumbai staple ” Pav Bhaji”.
Mumbai is spoilt with options when it comes to pav bhaji. Juhu beaches stalls, Shiv Sagar , Amar juice centre, Achija , Kapil , etc, etc are some of the top listers in making and serving pav bhaji.
I have fond memories of when life was simpler and we earned our weekend trips from our parents. There would be in total two outings for me and my brother , which totally depended on how we behaved during the two week period. Our homeworks, zero complaints and clean room ensured us a trip out.
I remember watching movies with my parents at Regal Cinema , walking down Fashion Street at Churchgate , Bade Miya Trips , Ice creams at K Rustomji , Pizza by the Bay etc.
When we weren’t in SoBo , we would at Juhu beach all evening and late night pav bhaji, pizza and falooda round at Shiv Sagar. The one in vile Parle East at that time was one of the most happening place in suburbs. People from all over the surburds would come down with their cars loaded with people. The restaurant would shut at 12 am but food would still be served till 3 am… My brother and I would always share half a pav bhaji , a pizza and then one full glass of falooda.
There was fun, excitement, anticipation and an yearn for such outings. In present times all of this is missing. There is no yearn as we go out every weekend. We now go to malls and not to beaches. We eat at fancy restaurant and imported fast food chains and not at a local joint. Too many choices and frivolity has made “Simplicity” “Obsolete“.
To rekindle those happy moments of life , I made pav bhaji. This is closest to a restaurant style bhaji. It’s creamy and tentalising to the taste buds. Give a pass to your restuarant order and try making it with your loved ones. Bond on flavours. Hope you enjoy making it and eating it as well….
In the pressure cooker
5 medium size potatoes skin removed and diced.
1/2 cup peas . Fresh ones taste better.
5 large tomatoes
5 medium size onions chopped finely
8 to 10 pods of garlic , minced.
1 large capsicum , chopped finely.
3 TSP Kashmiri red chilli powder
1.5 tbsp pav bhaji masala
1/4 tsp Hing / Asofetida
1/4 tsp Haldi / Turmeric
4 tbsp butter and more for toasting bread
Half a lemon
Chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Water as necessary
Red food colouring (optional)
1. Pressure cook everything mentioned in pressure cooker list.
2. Melt butter in a heavy based pan. Saute till the raw smell goes but don’t brown it.
3. Add onions and cook till they become mush. But don’t brown them. Add capsicum.
4. Add powder spices and saute till the raw smell goes.
5. Smash the boiled vegetables and add the mixture to the pan. Mix well.
6. Add chopped coriander and food colouring ( optional)
7. Heat a non-stick pan and coat with butter. Slice the pav in the middle and toast it on both sides.
8. Serve with chopped onions a d a dollop of butter .