Mumbai Pav Bhaji is one of the most popular Indian street food . Uttterly butterly delicious spicy bhaji served alongside butter laden pav. Are you drooling yet ?? Every Indian fast food restaurant serves Pav Bhaji . In fact it is the most ordered dish on the menu which is enjoyed by folks of all ages . Learn how to make restaurant style Pav Bhaji at home in the easiest possible way using an Instant Pot pressure cooker. This recipe requires less effort and cleaning without compromising on the taste .Guys this is the only Pav Bhaji recipe you will ever need !!
What is Pav Bhaji ?
There are two parts to this dish-
Pav means diner rolls . They are slathered with butter and cooked on a pan until warm .
Bhaji here is smashed mixed vegetable curry cooked with special Pav Bhaji masala and loads of butter .
Both Pav and Bhaji are served together along with chopped onions and lemon wedge . This combination is finger licking good !!! If you never had Pav Bhaji then you are seriously missing something in life.
Pav Bhaji being native to Maharashtra especially to Mumbai is enjoyed globally . I haven’t come across anyone who can say “No” to Pav Bhaji. It is always a crowd pleaser.
I am born and brought up in Mumbai. Being a Mumbaikar and a hard-core foodie lot of memories are attached with this dish . Juhu beach is quiet close to my house. When we were young , my parents used to take my brother and me to the beach every weekend. We spent hours enjoying the sunset , splashing in the water , playing games and making sand dunes. All these activities made us very hungry. So we ate butta ( corn on cob ) , juhu chana chaat and gola there . By the time we wrapped up at the beach it would be dinner time. We then stopped at the street food stalls right at Juhu beach .
My parents would order pav bhaji and some chaat there. Our hungry bellies would wait for the awesome Pav Bhaji . As kids we found it spicy so it was extra cheese and butter bhaji for us. This is one dish I can spend my entire life on. I mean I can eat Pav Bhaji day and night everyday without getting bored.
When I went to college my favorite hot spot for eating Pav Bhaji was Amar juice center which was right outside . I loved hanging around with my friends there for hours . We used to order endless plates of Pav Bhaji , Tawa Pulao and pitchers of soda. Those were the days.. sigh!!!!
If you are in Mumbai make sure you eat Pav Bhaji at Amar , Sardar and Juhu beach stalls.
Since I have moved to the USA I haven’t found a single restaurant that served Bhaji as tasty as the one I grew up eating. My mom is a pro cook and makes replica restaurant style bhaji . All I had to do is to take recipe from her and make it myself. My dad is from the food industry so she got opportunities to learn secrets of restaurant style cooking from the chefs itself. And trust me this Pav bhaji hits the spot right away . From color to texture , spice level to balance of ingredients , everything is so perfect.
Mom’s Secret of making Restaurant style Pav Bhaji at home –
One thing my mom does different is that she doesn’t use any red food color . She improvised the bhaji recipe by using grated beetroot. One more thing that the restaurants and street food stalls use to make bhaji is Dried green peas ( cooked of course ) instead of fresh green peas. Upon asking the chef said that peas are seasonal and rest of the year they are very expensive. So they use dried green peas throughout the year. I have made Pav bhaji countless times with fresh green peas as well as dried peas and yes the bhaji really tastes different . My vote is for dried peas but if I haven’t pre planned then I do use frozen fresh grean peas . Either ways this recipe is delicious.
Which vegetables are used to make Pav Bhaji –
Bhaji is made with a blend of various vegetables.Basically it is a fridge clean out recipe . You can use vegetables like onions , tomatoes, potatoes, plantains, green peas, cauliflower, bell peppers to make Bhaji. Pav bhaji is made differently in every household. Some variations include carrots, broccoli and green beans , eggplant (baingan) too. I personally do not prefer carrots or sweet potato for making this recipe as it will just make bhaji taste sweet . I suggest not to use cabbage in bhaji as it makes it slimy. And please do not use leafy greens or okra.
How to make Pav Bhaji at home ?
You can make Pav Bhaji the traditional way in a pan. This requires finely chopping everything . Boiling potatoes, peas and cauliflower separately and then adding everything to the pan . This method requires you to be around stirring the bhaji often and monitoring it. Needless to say you will have a couple of utensils to clean.
I prefer making Pav Bhaji in a pressure cooker . Now that I have an electric pressure cooker Instant Pot , I make bhaji in it in one go.
All I have to do is put all ingredients in the Instant Pot without pre boiling anything and Bhaji is ready in no time. The best part is less pots to clean and no baby sitting the curry.
I like to use onions , tomatoes , cauliflower, bell peppers ( capsicum ) , potatoes , peas ( dried or fresh ) and lot of garlic. Beetroot for red color of the bhaji without adding any food color ( totally optional ). I even use store-bought tomato purée for the deep tomato tangy flavor of the bhaji.
Pav Bhaji Masala and a good quality of red chili powder is essential to make this Bhaji . Pav Bhaji masala is a blend of various Indian spices that is the star of the bhaji. Bhaji without this pav bhaji masala won’t turn out great. May be you can use garam masala but it is not the same. You can easily find this masala in any Indian grocery store worldwide . If it is unavailable then you can make your own Pav Bhaji masala at home. My friends mom makes it at home . She was kind enough to share this Pav Bhaji Masala recipe with me.
Homemade Pav Bhaji Masala recipe –
There are two ways you can make Pav Bhaji masala at home –
- improvising with garam masala
- making pav bhaji masala from scratch using dry spices
If you have garam masala here is what you will do-
2 tablespoon garam masala + 1 teaspoon Indian red chili powder preferably ( kashmiri red chili )
How to make Pav Bhaji masala –
- 7 whole red dry chili ( preferably bydagi if you want less hot or Kashmiri )
- 4 tablespoon coriander seed
- 4 cloves
- 5 black cardamom
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black/ white pepper
- 1/2 inch cinnamon sticks
- 2 count mace / javitri
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon black salt
Dry roast all the whole spices in a pan on low to medium heat until fragrant . Once cooled blend it in a spice blender . Then stir in turmeric and salt. Store in a air tight jar. Use as needed .
Which brand of Pav Bhaji Masala is the best ?
I personally use Badshah or Everest Pav Bhaji masala.
Tips and tricks for making the best restaurant style pav bhaji at home –
Proportion is everything. The ratio of tomatoes , tomato puree to other vegetables is very important.
Use good quality red chili powder as well as pav bhaji masala .
If you want the pav bhaji to taste just like Mumbai street style or fast food restaurant then do not compromise on the amount of butter used.
Having said that , the best part of making anything at home is that you can adjust the ingredients to your preference too .
Can I make Pav Bhaji ahead of time ?
Definitely yes. Infact the flavors mingle and deepen given you the best tasting Pav bhaji. Pav Bhaji stays good for 2 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer.
Is Pav Bhaji healthy ?
Bhaji is a delicious way to eat you vegetables. You can sneak in loads of veggies in one dish especially for the fussy eaters. Make Pav Bhaji healthy at home by using minimal oil or butter . You may even make bhaji without butter and just cook it in vegetable broth. Swap Pav for parathas , rotis , dosas or khakras and you will have a healthy low fat bhaji recipe good to go.
How to make vegan Pav Bhaji ?
Use vegan butter instead of dairy and you have completely vegan Pav Bhaji . Make sure you serve the bhaji with vegan friendly dinner rolls .
How to make Jain Pav Bhaji or no onion no garlic Pav Bhaji ?
Simply skip onion and garlic . If Jain then skip the potatoes . You may substitute potatoes with raw banana / plantain or increase the quantity of green peas. Beetroot is optional .
How to make Pav Bhaji in an Instant Pot ?
Making Pav Bhaji in a pressure cooker is by far the easiest way to make it. It requires less effort and only one pot to clean . Whenever we had a party at home my mom always made bhaji in a pressure cooker. This Bhaji can be made in a stove top pressure cooker as well as instant pot or any other electric pressure cooker. Given below is a step by step pictorial followed by the recipe and notes for making restaurant style Pav Bhaji at home.
This recipe will serve 18 – 20 people provided there are other items on the menu. If you are only serving Pav Bhaji then this recipe suffices 10 people. This recipe can easily be increased or decreased as per your needs.
Other ideas to use Pav Bhaji –
If you do not wish to eat bhaji with pav or looking for interesting ways to serve Bhaji then here are few ways you can do so
- Pav Bhaji Dosa
- Pav Bhaji Pizza
- Bhaji toast sandwiches
How to make Mumbai Pav Bhaji in an Instant Pot pressure cooker-
Mumbai Pav Bhaji
Make authentic tasting Indian street food Mumbai Pav Bhaji at home with easiest possible method by pressure cooking it in Instant Pot. Hands free recipe that tastes exactly like the one at the restaurant without all the hard work.
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 6 tablespoon butter divided (see notes)
- 1.5 tablespoon Indian red chili powder preferably kashmiri or bydagi chilies
- 2.5 tablespoons Pav Bhaji masala divided
- 8 medium size ripe roma tomatoes chopped roughly
- 1 ¼ cup tomato puree see notes
- 195 grams / 1.5 cups finely chopped onions
- 12 cloves of garlic minced or grated approx. 2.5 tablespoon
- 500 grams / 3 medium sized potatoes peeled and cubed
- 130 grams/ 1 cup green bell pepper / capsicum chopped
- 130 grams / 1 cup cauliflower florets
- ¾ cup grated beetroot see notes
- 1 ½ cup cooked green peas from dried bean , see notes
- 1 cup water
- Salt to taste
For topping / side
- Fistful of cilantro finely chopped
- Lemon wedges
- Finely chopped onions
- Dollops of extra butter
For preparing pav for serving
- butter for spreading both sides
- pav / diner rolls
Switch on the Instant Pot on Saute mode.
Add in 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter .
Once warm add in the onions and stir until translucent , approx. 2 minutes
Add in minced garlic , 1 tablespoon red chili powder and the 2 tablespoon pav bhaji masala. Stir for 10 seconds .
Add in 1 cup of water and deglaze the pot .
Add in everything else and give it a quick stir .
Secure the IP lid . Cancel Sautee mode and press manual HIGH 8 minutes .
The black knob on the lid should be on SEALING position.
Once the IP beeps let the pressure come down naturally .
When the silver pin drops , turn the knob to venting and carefully open the lid.
Smash the bhaji with a potato masher or immersion blender.
Give it a taste test and adjust seasoning to your preference .
Add in 4 tablespoon butter , 1/2 tablespoon reserved pav bhaji masala and give it a quick mix.
Add in cilantro and reserve extra for garnish .
Turn on the IP to Sautee mode and let the bhaji cook for 2 minutes before serving.
Cover the IP with an external lid as Bhaji will splatter.
For preparing pav for serving
Warm up the tawa/ skillet. Slit the Pav. Spread butter on both sides. Heat up Pav on each side until warm .
Serve besides bhaji , chopped onions and lemon.
This recipe fits 6qt and 8 qt Instant Pot. Cut the recipe into half if making in a Mini Instant Pot.
Check out this Mumbai Tava Pulao recipe that goes well alongside Pav Bhaji.
This post will mostly answer all your queries so please go through it from the beginning.
You may use equal amount of frozen ( fresh) green peas in place of the cooked dry peas. ( Authentic Pav Bhaji is made with green dry peas )
How I cook dried green peas -
Rinse dried peas 2-3 times under cold water . Soak ¾ cups dried peas in 1.5 cup water overnight or for 8 hours. Discard water. Put the soaked peas in inner pot of IP pressure cooker . Pour in 1.5 cups water. Secure the IP lid , knob on SEALING position. Cook in Instant Pot Manual HIGH 18 minutes followed by natural pressure release (NPR).
I know that making Pav Bhaji with dried green peas requires some planning ahead but guarantees restaurant taste with it. Using frozen green peas is always an option when I do not plan ahead and works well too.
PRO TIP- You can cook a big batch of dried green peas and freeze in one time use portion size for whenever you want to make Bhaji.
Beetroot is used for bright red color of Pav bhaji without adding any food color. Skip if color isn’t an issue for you. Beetroot isn’t used by restaurants but won’t alter the taste of Bhaji .
The spice level of this Pav Bhaji is 4 on 5 , 5 being hot . Adjust the masala to your preference.
Adding some reserved masala towards the end brings out the flavor even more.
If you have time on hand make pav bhaji 6-8 hours or more ahead of time for flavor of masala to deepen .
If making for kids and adults at the same time here is what I do –
Make bhaji with minimum spice. After cooking smash it. Take desired portion out for kids and then add masala plus butter. Stir the Bhaji to coat with the masala. Put on a glass or any other lid that covers the bhaji and cook on Sautee mode for 2-3 minutes. Covering is important because Bhaji will splatter a bit after you smash it. Stir few times in between if possible.
How to store Pav Bhaji –
The flavor of bhaji intensifies after few hours. So if you have time on hand make bhaji 4-5 hours before serving , though not necessary. It tastes even better the next day .
Bhaji stays well in the fridge upto 2 days and freezes well up to 3 months. Freeze in one time use portion size. Once thawed use it within 2 days .Do not refreeze .
Using Butter -
Authentic Mumbai Pav Bhaji uses a lot of butter as you can see in the recipe. If you are weary about it then use as desired.
Savory recipes do not have to be followed exactly to the T as the baking ones. You can take the measures as guideline and follow approximately. Results will be delicious either ways.
Do not have an Instant Pot ? You can make this Pav bhaji in a regular pressure cooker or open pan on the stovetop .
For stove top pressure cooker follow the recipe as above and cook for 5 whistles . Let the pressure come down naturally.
For making it in the pan follow recipe above. You will have to pre boil the vegetables like peas, cauliflower, beet, potatoes and then proceed with the recipe . Keep stirring often .
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