Pav bhaji is a flavorsome and hearty meal that has a delicious blend of spicy mixed vegetables, served alongside soft butter toasted dinner rolls, crunchy onions and lemon wedges. This homemade Mumbai pav bhaji tastes absolutely phenomenal! It’s the easiest and a great dinner option for the busy weeknights. A total crowd-pleaser with bold flavors! Make the best pav bhaji at home with my simple recipe instructions for stovetop and instant pot.
It’s no secret that there a lot of delicious Indian street foods like aloo tikki, dahi vada, bhel puri, vada pav and batata vada, but pav bhaji is particularly unique for its intoxicating aroma. Probably, it’s hard for a lot of Indians to cross a pav bhaji place without surrendering to the temptation. Undeniably, it is the most loved street foods from India!!
If you are new to Indian cuisine and wondering
What is pav bhaji
Pav bhaji is an Indian fast food consisting of a spicy vegetable gravy served with soft dinner rolls. In Hindi and Marathi, the word ‘Pav’ means ‘Bread roll’ and ‘bhaji’ means ‘a vegetable dish’. Since these are served together as a meal, it is known as pav bhaji.
Originated in Mumbai as a light and quick meal option for the textile workers, this Mumbai’s most iconic street food became hugely popular across India. (Source: Wikipedia)
You will find this everywhere right from upscale restaurants to school/ college canteens & street side push carts in India.
About this recipe
My homemade version is easier than you think & it tastes incredibly delicious! Except for the preparation, you won’t need to put much effort. Though an all-time favorite, this isn’t the perfect starter instead it is ideal for a meal. Because no one wants to stop with 1 to 2 servings of pav bhaji.
Bhaji has a mélange of vegetables cooked with butter and pav bhaji masala, a special spice blend which creates a magic. The piping hot bhaji is topped with a generous amount of butter and garnished with coriander leaves.
It is then served alongside butter toasted pav, chopped onions and lemon wedges. Then you are ready to dip the pav in the bhaji and relish it.
Usually the street side bhaji is made with more potatoes & onions. Veggies like cauliflower, capsicum & peas are used in little quantities or even skipped.
Street stalls selling Mumbai pav bhaji often avoid cauliflower as it turns out to be expensive for them. But while making it at home, it is good to use it as the flavor of bhaji turns out excellent.
There are many pav bhaji masala powders available in the market which can be used instantly. Each one differs in the flavor and taste. But the basic ingredients almost remain the same. Only the quantity of ingredients change. So you can chose the one you like.
I like my homemade masala powders so I make my own pav bhaji masala powder at home. You can find the link in the recipe card below. I have shared it here in brief.
Make pav bhaji masala
You can also make pav bhaji masala powder by dry roasting the following ingredients. Powder them in a spice jar and use as needed in this recipe.
2 tbsps coriander seeds
1 black cardamom
2 green cardamoms
1 tbsp cumin or jeera
1 tsp pepper corn
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
3 red chilies
1 inch cinnamon
3 to 4 cloves
1/2 tbsp amchur
How to make pav bhaji (stepwise photos)
Rinse, peel and cube 3 medium or 2 larger potatoes (about 300 grams). Mine were about 1½ to 2 cups when measured. Clean 1 cup cauliflower florets (optional). Rinse ½ to ¾ cups green peas. If you want you can also use 1 medium carrot (Half cup chopped).
For making masala, chop 1 medium onion (¾ to 1 cup chopped) , 2 medium tomatoes (¾ to 1 cup chopped), half bell pepper (½ cup chopped) and 1 green chilli. Also make 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste. Keep all of these aside.
1. Add potatoes, cauliflower, peas & carrots (optional) to a pressure cooker or a pot. Pour 1½ cups water, it should be just enough to cover them partially.
2. Pressure cook for 1 to 2 whistles on a medium flame. I pressure cook for only 1 whistle.
3. When the pressure releases open the lid. Veggies should be soft cooked. Mash them well.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon butter & 1 tablespoon oil in a pan.
5. Add ¾ to 1 cup chopped onions. Saute till they turn translucent.
6. Add 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste and 1 green chilli. Fry until it smells good. Take care not to burn.
7. Add half cup chopped bell pepper. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
8. Add ¾ to 1 cup chopped tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt. Fry till tomatoes turn mushy, soft and pulpy.
9. Add 1 teaspoon chilli powder and 1 to 1½ tablespoon paav bhaji masala powder. If making for kids, skip the chilli powder but it will affect the color.
10. Mix well and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
11. Add the boiled & mashed veggies. Add ½ to ¾ cups more water to bring it to a consistency.
12. Mix well and simmer for a while to bring out the flavor of masala. Taste test and add more salt if you want. You can also add more chili powder at this stage for brighter color. Also for more flavor you may add more pav bhaji masala if you want.
13. Add ¾ tablespoon kasuri methi. When it reaches the desired consistency, add chopped coriander leaves. switch off. Slightly cool down and add some lemon juice before serving.
14. Slit the pav horizontally leaving one edge intact. On a low flame, heat 1 teaspoon butter on a tawa. Add little masala powder over it.
15. Place the pav on the butter and toast for 1 to 2 mins until slightly crisp. Do not over do it as the spice powder will burn. You can do the same on the other side as well by adding more butter on the pan.
Garnish with coriander leaves, lemon wedges and chopped onions. Top with more butter on hot bhaji. Serve pav bhaji with some butter topped and onion.
How to make Instant pot pav bhaji
This recipe has been tried and tested in a 6 qts Instant pot. It works very well even with homemade pavbhaji masala which I shared in the Intro of this post.
For Bhaji you will need
1 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¾ cup onions fine chopped – 125 grams – 1 medium or 2 small
¾ cup tomatoes fine chopped – 125 grams – 2 medium
1½ cups potatoes – 300 grams – 3 medium or 2 large
½ cup green peas – 75 grams
½ cup carrots (1 medium, 75 grams)
1 cup cauliflower florets (or substitute with half cup potatoes)
½ cup bell pepper chopped – 65 grams – 1 small capsicum
1 tablespoon ginger garlic fine chopped or paste
1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 to 1½ tbsp pav bhaji masala
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (can add more for heat)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon kasuri methi
2 to 3 tablespoons coriander leaves chopped
6 to 8 pavs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons chopped onions
2 tablespoons coriander leaves fine chopped
1. Press SAUTE button on the instant pot. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil to the steel insert. I also added half teaspoon cumin seeds here which I have not mentioned in the recipe. These are optional and can be skipped.
2. Add onions and green chilli. Saute until transparent.
3. Spread them in a single layer so they fry quickly.
4. Then stir in ginger garlic and fry for 30 seconds.
5. Add the tomatoes, capsicum and sprinkle salt.
6. Saute until the tomatoes turn soft and mushy. Then add in pav bhaji masala, chilli powder and turmeric.
7. Mix well and add all the veggies – potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and peas.
8. Pour 2 cups water and deglaze the pot by scrubbing the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula.
9. Press CANCEL button and press PRESSURE COOK button with high pressure setting. Set the timer to 5 mins and position the steam release handle to sealing. When the IP beeps, wait for 5 mins for natural pressure release. Gently release the rest of the pressure manually.
10. With a spatula or masher, mash all the veggies well.
11. Press SAUTE button. Taste test. If needed add more salt, red chilli powder and pav bhaji masala. I set aside my kids’ portion and then added more spice powders. Also add kasuri methi.
12. Let the bhaji simmer for 3 to 4 mins. It will thicken.
13. Transfer to serving bowls. Top with butter & coriander leaves.
Slit each bun to 2 horizontally. Heat a pan. Smear some butter and sprinkle pav bhaji masala over the butter. (check images above) Toast the pavs until lightly crisp.
Serve pav with hot bhaji, chopped onions and lemon wedges on the side.
Your questions answered
Yes! With oodles of butter added to the street side Mumbai pav bhaji, it becomes one of the most calorie-laden food. Also pav is made with all-purpose flour which is a pure refined product. If you eat the street style dish often, you may easily gain weight. If you are trying to lose weight, steer clear of the street side dish and customize it at home to suit your diet.
Eating refined foods in moderation may not necessarily be bad for healthy individuals. To compensate for that, include more whole grains regularly in your diet. Further homemade pav bhaji can be made healthier if you use whole wheat pav, dinner rolls instead of the white flour bread. Also replace the regular butter with organic or grass-fed cow butter.
Street side vendors sometimes add color to the pav bhaji. But you can almost get the same color by simply soaking 10 deseeded Kashmiri red chilies in ¼ cup hot water until soft. Then blend them until smooth. Add this along with the pav bhaji masala while cooking. This gives a brighter color to the dish.
If you do not have pav bhaji masala, in a pinch you can use garam masala, coriander powder and red chilli powder. Though the flavour won’t be the same it will still taste good.
Pav bhaji masala is made with various spices like coriander seeds, black cardamom, green cardamoms, cumin, black pepper, fennel seeds, red chilies, cinnamon, cloves and amchur (Mango powder).
I highly recommend making your own masala at home as it barely takes 10 mins. But you can always use store bought one for comfort. Try MDH, Everest & Tata sampan. You will need to adjust the quantities as needed as the spice levels vary.
Simply skip the onions and garlic to make a no onion no garlic pav bhaji. You don’t need to substitute them with any other ingredient.
Pav bhaji recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1½ to 2 cup potatoes diced (3 medium or 2 large) (300 grams)
- ½ to ¾ cup green peas (75 grams matar)
- 1 cup cauliflower (100 grams florets, optional)
- ½ cup carrot (optional, 1 small, 75 grams)
- ½ cup capsicum (bell pepper) chopped
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium onion (¾ to 1 cup finely chopped, 125 grams )
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste or chopped
- 1 green chili (slit or chopped, optional)
- 2 medium tomatoes (¾ to 1 cup finely chopped, 125 grams)
- 1 to 1½ teaspoon red chili powder (less spicy kind or red chili paste from 10 red chilies)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 to 1½ tablespoon pavbhaji masala powder (use more if needed)
- ¾ tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
To toast pav
- 4 to 6 Pav (buns) (dinner rolls)
- 1 tablespoon butter for toasting pav
- ½ teaspoon pav bhaji masala powder
- 1 Lemon wedges
- 2 tablespoon onions Chopped
- 2 tablespoon Coriander leaves
- 2 tablespoon butter
- Add 1 cup cauliflower florets, 1½ to 2 cups cubed potatoes, carrots (optional) and ½ to ¾ cup peas to a pot or pressure cooker.
- Pour 1½ cups water and cook until soft or tender.
- If cooking in cooker, let it whistle twice. When the pressure releases open the lid and mash them well.
- Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil to a pan and heat up.
- Next add ¾ to 1 cup finely chopped onions and fry till they turn translucent.
- Then add 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste and 1 chopped green chili.
- Fry till it becomes fragrant.
- Next add ½ cup capsicums & saute for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add ¾ to 1 cup chopped tomato and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Fry till tomatoes turn soft and mushy.
- Next add 1 teaspoon chili powder,¼ teaspoon turmeric and 1 to 1½ tablespoon pav bhaji masala powder.
- Mix and fry for another 2 minutes or until the raw smell of the mixture goes away.
- Add boiled & mashed veggies.
- Pour more water (½ to ¾ cup) just enough to bring to a thick consistency.
- Cook for 3 to 5 mins until the bhaji thickens. Taste and add more salt if needed. If you want it more spicy, add another half tsp chilli powder and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add ¾ tbsp kasuri methi if using and cook until it reaches a desired consistency.
How to make pav bhaji
- Slit the pav buns horizontally leaving one edge intact.
- Heat butter on a pan. Open the buns and sprinkle some pav bhaji masala on the butter.
- Place the pav & toast them for a min or two.
- Garnish with onions, butter and lemon wedges. Serve pav bhaji hot or warm.
Instant pot pav bhaji
- Press SAUTE button on the instant pot. Pour 1 tablespoon oil and add 1 tablespoon butter to the steel insert.
- Add ¾ to 1 cup onions and 1 slit green chilli. Saute until transparent.
- Then stir in 1 tablespoon ginger garlic and fry for 30 seconds.
- Add ¾ to 1 cup tomatoes, ½ cup chopped capsicum and sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt. Saute until the tomatoes turn soft and mushy.
- Then add in 1 to 1½ pav bhaji masala, 1 teaspoon chilli powder and ¼ teaspoon turmeric.
- Mix well and add all the veggies – 300 grams potatoes, 1 cup cauliflower florets, ½ cup carrots and ½ to ¾ cup green peas.
- Pour 2 cups water and deglaze the pot by scrubbing the bottom with a wooden spatula.
- Press CANCEL button and press PRESSURE COOK button with high pressure setting. Set the timer to 5 mins and position the steam release handle to sealing.
- When the IP beeps, wait for 5 mins for natural pressure release. Gently release the rest of the pressure manually.
- There will be lot of water when you open the lid. With a masher, mash all the veggies well, they will soak up the water.
- Press SAUTE button. If needed add more salt, pav bhaji masala and more red chilli for a brighter color. I usually add ½ teaspoon more red chilli powder at this stage.
- Let the bhaji simmer for 3 to 4 mins. It will thicken. Then add add crushed kasuri methi and mix. Press cancel. Sprinkle coriander leaves and 1 tablespoon butter.
- Slit each bun to 2 horizontally. Heat a pan. Smear some butter and sprinkle pav bhaji masala over the butter. (check images above) Toast the pavs until lightly crisp.
- Transfer bhaji to serving bowls. Top with butter & coriander leaves.
- Serve alongside toasted buns and freshly cut onions.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes