Monday, January 23, 2012
Pav Bhaji :: Meatless Masala Monday
This post marks the start of a new series called Meatless Masala Mondays. Many food bloggers share vegetarian recipes as part of Meatless Monday, an increasingly popular movement that encourages people to go meatless on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Since every day is a meatless day at Plate and Pour, every Monday I will share an Indian vegetarian recipe with you.
Pav bhaji is Indian fast food, a kind of street food originating in Mumbai and widely popular in Gujarat. Pav means bread and bhaji is a mixture of vegetables and generally pav bhaji is enjoyed as an afternoon snack or a light dinner. In graduate school, I absolutely loved going to Devon, the little India of Chicago, for pav bhaji and other Gujarati snacks at Sukhadia's. If you ever find yourself amongst the crowds at the food stalls on Chowpatty Beach in Mumbai, pav bhai is a worthy challenger to kathi rolls for the most delicious midnight snack.
What I love the most about pav bhaji is that it is packed with so many different vegetables: cauliflower, green cabbage, carrots, peas, and potatoes in a tomato, onion, ginger and garlic gravy scented with masala. It's a great way to incorporate a ton of vegetables into your diet!
If you live in an area with an Indian grocery store, you can find Pav Bhaji masala, a blend of spices used in the gravy. I have also provided a pav bhaji masala recipe if you are inclined to make your own.
Not surprising, the time consuming step in this dish is chopping all of the vegetables. Once chopped, boil the vegetables until tender. Drain and set aside.
Then in a dry large heavy bottomed pot heat oil, add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds pop, add cumin seeds and a pinch of asofetida. Add onions, sauteing until transparent, and then add garlic, ginger, and green chile, sauteing for a minute.
Add chopped tomatoes and cook until a gravy forms. Add spices and cook until fragrant. Stir in boiled vegetables. Taste and add salt and lemon juice as needed. Sometimes the vegetables are mashed to create a smooth consistency. Personally I prefer to leave each vegetable in tact, but you may mash it gently at this point if you wish. Traditionally the bhaji is finished with butter, but it can be skipped without much consequence.
Toast bread (I used a whole grain loaf) or hamburger buns and slather with butter. If you wish to skimp on the butter in this dish, skip the butter in the bhaji but please, please generously butter the toasted bread. It is absolutely worth the extra fat. Top the buttered toasted bread with bhaji and garnish with finely chopped red onion.
Pav Bhaji Masala
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
4 dried red chiles1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp back peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
seeds from 5 cardamom pods, pods removed
1 tbsp dried mango powder (amchur)
Dry roast all the whole spices until slightly darken and fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool. In a coffee grinder or powerful blender, combine roasted whole spices and ground spices (dried mango powder). Grind to a fine powder.
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced about 2.5 cups
1 medium cabbage, cored and chopped into thin ribbons
1/2 medium cauliflower, cored and cut into small florets
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, rinsed
1 1/2 onions, diced
3 medium tomatoes, about 1lb in total, diced
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1 green chile, chopped
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asofetida
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper
*3 tsp pav bhaji masala, See recipe above; also available at most Indian grocery stores
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp butter
8 slices of bread or 4 hamburger buns, toasted
butter for toasted bread
garnish 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
Chop all vegetables to a small dice. In a large pot, add vegetables and just enough water to cover the vegetables. Boil the vegetables until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile in a large heavy bottomed pot, heat oil, add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds pop, add cumin seeds and a pinch of asofetida. Add onions, sauteing until transparent, and then add garlic, ginger, and green chile, sauteing for another minute.
Add chopped tomatoes and cook until a gravy forms. Add spices and cook until fragrant. Stir in boiled vegetables. Taste and add salt and lemon juice as needed. Traditionally the bhaji is finished with butter, but you can skip that step if you wish.
Toast bread or hamburger buns and slather with butter. If you wish to skimp on the butter in this dish, do so in the bhaji but please, please butter the toasted bread. It is absolutely worth the extra fat. Top the buttered toasted bread with bhaji and garnish with finely chopped red onion.