Picture this: You are strolling along your favorite beach, as the sun sets over tranquil waters. Gentle waves lap at your feet calling for attention; while you can’t take your eyes off the orange glow of the setting sun, bathing everything in warm hues…You see shanty-style food stalls dotting the outer edge of the beach; cars parked haphazardly near them, showing that the occupants couldn’t quite wait to sample the delicious treats awaiting them at these food stalls. You have now experienced, through your mind’s amazing eye, an evening at the popular beaches of Mumbai in western India…Hopefully, our recipe for today, inspired by the delectable Indian street food ‘Pav Bhaji’, will give you a more realistic experience.
Across the world, the street food culture of any city is a unique experience, taking you directly to the heart of the city…to the core of its cuisine. India has always been popular for its vibrant street food scene, which boosts of treats from its four corners; like a string that ties the cuisines of India together.
Think Chaat – savory snacks served with hot chutneys and sauces; Samosas – spicy vegetables or meat in puff pastry, Pani Puri – called by different names across India, this unique chaat uses hollow crisps filled with flavored spicy water, Kathi Rolls – meat wrapped in Indian flatbread, Kulfi – a naturally flavored Indian ice cream.
And that brings us to our street food treat for today: Pav Bhaji – a sizzling hash of spiced vegetables cooked on a large griddle in pure butter and served with a side of buttered rolls. ‘Pav Bhaji vendors’ have a signature move; they tap the end of their metal spatula on the griddle in order to attract clients to their food stall.
For me, Pav Bhaji is great way to clean up my vegetable drawer and have a healthy meal in the process. Yes, just replace most of the butter element with canola oil and before you know it, you’ve created a delicious and healthful treat. Kids love this meal since they can dip their buttered bread in the vegetable mixture and you will be amazed at how quickly this dish comes together for an easy weekday meal or for Sunday brunch.
Serves 4 • Prep Time- 15 minutes • Hands-on cook time- 25 minutes
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup diced potatoes*
½ cup diced carrots*
1 cup cauliflower florets*
½ cup peas*
1 cup chopped red bell peppers*
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon coriander powder
¼ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mango powder or amchur (optional)
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice (use 2 tablespoons if not using mango powder)
¼ cup cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon butter
*Use a total of 4 cups of vegetables of your choice for this recipe…try green beans, zucchini, corn, and broccoli.
Use a flat large pan to cook this recipe. Heat canola oil along with the fennel seeds so that the oil gets infused with its flavor. Then, brown the onion and garlic in the oil. Start cutting and adding the vegetables one at a time to the pan (except tomatoes; point 7 in this article will tell you why.) Add the spices, salt and toss with the vegetables for about 3-4 minutes till you can smell the aroma of the spices.
Stir in the tomatoes and a cup of water. Cover and let the vegetables cook through; the water will have dried out. Using the back of your spoon, crush the vegetables till the mixture looks chunky (here, you can use your preference to reach desired consistency.)
Stir in the tomato paste, lemon juice and cilantro. Melt butter into this hot mixture; increase the flame to high and toss the hash till it is sizzling in the pan. Serve hot along with a side of warm buttered bread rolls, chopped onions and lemon wedges.