Oh yes, I did!
I took the Mumbai street food Pav Bhaji and made it completely comfortable on your dining table. If you're not familiar with this snack, pav means bread, while bhaji means vegetables. The story goes that street vendors came up with this popular combination as a lunch option for workers that wanted something lighter and faster than traditional Indian food.
Amongst my kids' friends, we call it veggie sloppy joes. When making these at home, serve them up on a large tray so guests can assemble themselves. Above, from left to right, you have Cilantro Green Apple Chutney, toasted slider buns (I get the gluten free for me), Pav Bhaji, chopped red onion/cilantro/green chile/salt/red chile powder salad smothered in lime juice.
The white spread? Spiced Cashew Cream. Super easy to make and an even easier way to add some protein to your veggie meal. The recipe is down below. I'll have the chutney recipe for you soon, promise.
But, first...let's start with the Pav Bhaji. Here's your mise en place:
From the top clockwise: carrots, peas, green chiles, garlic, spices, boiled potatoes, limes, tomatoes, green bell peppers, and onions in the middle. Use red onion if you can find it, but if not use what you have.
The spice jar in the center? Pav Bhaji masala. It's our #spiceoftheweek and a blend that combines 12 spices including coriander seeds, cumin, fennel, whole dried red chiles, carom seeds, and dried mango powder. Make your own or purchase a brand you trust. If you don't have it on hand, replace it with Garam Masala, but try to get your hands on the real deal. It makes a big difference. Of course you'll love our version, which I sell here on the site, on Amazon.com, and in select Midwest Whole Foods Markets just to try and make life easier for you!
Here's my recipe, follow along on page 90 of Indian For Everyone if you have it. And if you do...why exactly have you yet to make this amazing dish?
1 heaping cup chopped carrots
1 heaping cup frozen peas
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 tablespoons butter or plant-based alternative, divided
1 medium yellow or red onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and chopped
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 cup water
3 large russet potatoes, boiled, peeled, and mashed
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons Pav Bhaji masala, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon salt
Juice of 1 small lime, divided
8 hamburger buns (regular or gluten free) I used smaller sliders here
chopped onion, cilantro, and fresh chiles for garnish
1. Steam the carrots, peas, and bell peppers together until soft, about 5 minutes.
2. In a 6-quart saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and fresh chiles. Cook about 2 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and cook 3 minutes until they start to break down. Add water and cook 5 minutes. Mix well and break down with the back of a spoon.
4. Add steamed veggies from the first step, the potatoes, turmeric, pav bhaji masala, red chile powder, and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat.
5. Break the mixture down with the back of a spoon, or do what I do and use an immersion blender to break your ingredients down a bit. You want texture, but you want everything to be soft and mix well together. Add a little more water to thin it out if you want. Not the easiest dish to photograph, but here you go!
6. Return pan to heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and 3/4 of the lime juice. Warm about a minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
7. Butter the buns, sprinkle them with pav bhaji masala if you wish and lightly grill them on a frying pan or griddle until lightly brown.
8. Place about 1/2 cup of the mixture on each bun, garnish with the side of onion and cilantro, and serve open faced...sprinkle remaining lime juice over your sliders.
Cashew Cream: Super easy to make! Soak 1 cup raw cashews overnight. Drain. Add to a blender (I use a Vitamix) with 1 1/4 cups water and blend down until smooth. I also added 2 teaspoons of pav bhaji masala and some salt in this version to spice it up a bit.
Enjoy! xoxo Anupy