Pav bhaji is an Indian spicy vegetable curry of mashed vegetables served with dollops of butter and hot buttered buns, a highly popular street food dish, easy to make at home.
Pav Bhaji Recipe (Spicy Vegetable Curry)
We're cooking up a spicy vegetable curry in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends. Can you smell all the spices? The entire kitchen is aglow in aromatic aromas.
I love it! This particular dish is an enticing Indian curry made with mashed vegetables seasoned in curry spices. It's called Pav Bhaji, and it is sure to satisfy your needs as a spicy food lover.
What is Pav Bhaji?
Pav bhaji is a spicy Indian vegetable curry made with a variety of mixed vegetables such as potatoes, peas, carrots, peppers, and cauliflower, cooked with a blend of curry spices. It is a popular street food dish in India, particularly in the state of Maharashtra.
The curry is typically served with soft, buttered buns, called "pav", that are toasted until crispy and golden.
You'll usually find the dish topped with a generous dollop of butter, with fresh cilantro scattered over the top, with chopped onion and lemon or lime juice on the side.
Pav bhaji is known for its tangy and spicy flavors and is usually served as a fast food or a snack, though you can enjoy it as a main course. It is a popular dish among vegetarians and is often eaten with gusto at street food stalls, restaurants, and homes throughout India.
Let's talk about how to make pav bhaji, shall we?
Pav Bhaji Ingredients
The full ingredients list with measurements is listed in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Butter. Or use vegetable oil.
- Fresh Green Chilies. Use mild or spicy, to your preference.
- Red Bell Pepper.
- Ginger-Garlic Paste. Or you can use a mixture of ginger and garlic.
- Spices. Ground Kashmiri red chilies (or use other red chili powder), garam masala, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt to taste.
- For Serving. Dollops of butter, fresh chopped cilantro, chopped onion, soft bread rolls or buns and butter, lemon wedges.
How to Make Pav Bhaji - the Recipe Method
Cook the Onions and Peppers. Heat the oil in a medium sized pot or a large pan and add the onion and peppers. Cook them 5-6 minutes to soften, stirring them up here and there.
Ginger-Garlic Paste. Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. You will be able to smell the garlic blooming.
Tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and stir. Cook them down for 6-7 minutes, or until they start to soften up for you.
Add Spices. Add the spices - ground Kashmiri red chilies (or use other red chili powder), garam masala, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt, chickpeas, potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and peas. Stir and cook them a few seconds to let the flavors bloom.
Add Water and Simmer. Pour in 2 cup water, or enough to just cover the mixture. Bring the pan to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the mixture if very soft.
The goal is to make all of the vegetables soft enough to mash with a fork.
Mash the Curry. Use a large fork or potato masher to mash the pan mixture to your preference. You can also use a food processor or stick blender. The goal is to make a sort of gravy, though you can make yours chunky or smooth.
Garnish and Serve. Garnish with dollops of butter, chopped cilantro and onion with lemon wedges on the side. Squeeze on some fresh lemon juice. Highly recommended!
For the Buns. Split the buns in half then generously butter both sides. Heat a skillet to medium-high heat and toast the buns, butter side down, 1-2 minutes, or until toasted. Serve.
Boom! Done! Your pav bhaji is ready to serve. Looks so good, doesn't it? Don't forget the buttered rolls!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Mash or process your pav bhaji as much as you'd like, to either a chunky texture of a very smooth mixture, to your own preference.
- Add in other vegetables as a variation, like green beans, sweet potato, or rutabaga.
- Add in hotter chilies for a spicier version, or incorporate spicier chili powders to satisfy your inner chilihead.
Pav bhaji will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Simply heat it in a pot on the stove to enjoy again with toasted and buttered rolls.
You can also freeze it for 3 months in vacuum sealed containers.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this pav bhaji recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you, and if you decided to spice it up!
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Pav Bhaji Recipe
- 2 tablespoons butter or more to taste - or use vegetable oil
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 2-3 fresh green chilies diced (use bell for milder, or local spicy chilies)
- 1 red bell pepper finely diced
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste or use minced
- 2 large tomatoes finely diced
- 2 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder or use other red chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt to taste
- 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 2 large potatoes peeled and diced
- 1 cup chopped cauliflower
- 1 large carrot finely diced
- ½ cup peas fresh or frozen
- 1.5-2 cups water or more as needed
- For Serving. Dollops of butter, fresh chopped cilantro, chopped onion, soft bread rolls or buns and butter, lemon wedges
- Heat the oil in a medium sized pot or a large pan and add the onion and peppers. Cook 5-6 minutes to soften.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
- Add the tomatoes and stir. Cook for 6-7 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the ground Kashmiri red chilies (or other red chili powder), garam masala, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt, chickpeas, potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and peas. Stir.
- Pour in 2 cup water, or enough to just cover the mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the mixture if very soft.
- Use a large fork or potato masher to mash the pan mixture to your preference. You can also use a food processor or stick blender. Garnish with dollops of butter, chopped cilantro and onion with lemon wedges on the side.
- For the Buns: Split the buns in half then generously butter both sides. Heat a skillet to medium-high heat and toast the buns, butter side down, 1-2 minutes, or until toasted. Serve.
This one is a winner if you're an average person that likes Indian-style cuisine like myself. Followed instructions with following exceptions: 1) Butter and vegetable oil a no-go for health reasons and used Canola oil to start. 2) Used about 4 garlic cloves without creating paste (chopped). 3) Used 0.5 tsp of ginger powder instead of fresh. 4) Used five ripe Roma tomatoes (recommended tomato for Indian-style cuisine based on what I've read) instead of "two large tomatoes". 5) Did not skin any applicable vegetables (carrots, potatoes). I rarely skin, just scrub/rinse diligently. Especially for something that ends up as a mash, skins are not distinguishable and are extra nutrients. 6) Used 1 cup frozen chopped okra instead of peas since they are anathema to me (I describe them to friends and family as sweet balls of nastiness). 7) Added 1.5 tblsp of kashmiri chile powder instead of lesser recommended amount, but this was more for color than flavor.
I know there's likely culinary-related reasons for stages in the cooking process; however, after the onions and chiles step, I added everything else at the same time, stirred well, and cooked. I also roughly chopped everything since it all ends up in a mash anyway. No need to spend the time or effort dicing ingredients if it's all going to get cooked down to a wonderful mash that melds together. This comment is more for folks that do hand work rather than those that have utensils or "tools" that make dicing easy. I can say that there were zero observed negative effects from this approach - but I suppose it might be one of those things that you can tell the difference between doing it and not doing it. I've only "not done it" and remain blissfully ignorant as to whether it makes a difference. Either way, everything cooked down in the 30 minutes to the same malleability.
I own a hand-operated potato masher so I used that to mash everything. Chose not to blend because I like some small chunks to be in the mix. Nailed it.
I added salt at the end in stages until it was to my liking.
Regrets: Not making this spicy since I knew my son will also eat it.
End result was exceptional and I appreciate Mike sharing this additional recipe.
Mike Hultquist says
Sounds great. Very happy you enjoyed the dish.
What did we do with the chili powder, garam marsala, and cumin? With the other spices or at a different step?
Mike Hultquist says
Mike, yes! Ack, sorry, I didn't realize those got cut somehow. Thanks for pointing out this mistake. Enjoy!!
Cant wait to make this soon for me can i use vegan butter and skip red bell pepper as am not a big fan of red bell pepper am indian and i approved this cant wait to try this version at home perfect for my after office meals love your recipes as always brightens up my day everyday after work
Mike Hultquist says