Bhaji Pav -Humble Man's Feast
The King of Indian street food that has been ruling the streets of India since its inception, satisfying the hunger pangs of millions of vegetarians in this nation. I'm talking about none other than our own Bhaji Pav or a pot of mix veggies in a special Indian spices with Soft, melt in your mouth bread.
Bhaji translates to vegetables and pav means bread. It is considered to be a healthier option in street food because not only its served piping hot, but also because its a sure fire way to eat all the healthy vegetables which you wouldn't otherwise consume.
A treat for butter lovers cuz a plate of Bhaji is made in about 100 gms of butter! I am talking bout on the streets, in my home of course, I didn't have the heart to use that much butter. I do think of calories. Ohh shush...don't laugh, I do..... I do think of calories when I'm cooking just not when I'm eating! (giggle giggle)
It is spicy and it is mouth wateringly delicious!!! A visit to India is incomplete if you don't indulge in a serving of this western Indian specialty which is now famous everywhere in the country.
This post is inspired by one of my fellow foodie's picture- Rich Fletcher. I am not quite sure as to where he lives but he must've been to this food show where he came across this Bhaji pav.
You can see it is not quite authentic enough, altered to suit the international tastes better, presented it in a different way too. It inspired me to make it for all my friends here- the authentic version of course!! Btw, this reminds me, you should go take a look at his blog. Its inspiring. He makes everyday food looks so easy to make n so yumm... http://richfletchersgoodfoodrevolution.blogspot.com/ Make sure you visit and don't forget to tell him that I sent you there!
This is a guaranteed way to make your kids eat all the vegetables, just like our mom used to when my brother and I were younger. She cheated us by presenting the veggies in such a tempting way that we couldn't resist. I say it really wasn't fair! Now how were we supposed to refuse such a tasty treat!?
Well, take a look at this recipe and decide.
Make sure you have on hand ready made Bhaji Pav Masala. Its is a special blend of dried and powdered Indian spices which is easily available in Indian stores. It is this magical ingredient that will give you Bhaji (veggies) an authentic taste.
Most importantly, you can use the veggies of your choice. You need tomatoes, onions and potatoes for the base, the other vegetables can be whatever you like. The amount of the vegetables are just to give you an idea, no need to be exactly specific.
Time: 40 mins
6-7 tomatoes, pureed
3 medium red onions
10 garlic cloves (use less if you don't like garlic)
2" pc of ginger
3 Large potatoes (you can use regular potatoes or sweet potatoes, or even a mix)
100 gms french beans
100 gms Cauliflower
1 med capsicum
1 1/2 cups green peas (boiled separately)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp red chilli powder (use paprika if you don't like it spicy)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 green chillies
4 tbsp butter divided
cup of coriander leaves
1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
2 tbsp of Bhaji Pav Masala
3 tbsp oil
handful of cashews, roughly chopped
Pinch of love
4-5 cups of water
Take the potatoes, beans, cauliflower, half the capsicum and carrots and pressure cook them with the water. Drain veggies and save the water. Don't even think of wasting that liquid gold. I froze that vegetable stock and used it later.
Roughly chop the onions and ginger, peel the garlic and add to the chopper to make almost a mince. You can do this manually if your chopping is really fine. Mine isn't and I have no shame admitting it! But don't make a complete paste in the chopper.
Heat oil and 1 tbsp butter in a biggish pan. It needs to be able to hold all the veggies. Originally the vegetable part of the dish is made on a tava or a flat griddle which is almost 2 feet in diameter so that the water content evaporates quickly. Its an experience itself to see how the vendors make this Bhaji. Back to the recipe.
Slit the green chillies length wise and add to the hot oil along with the cumin. Saute for 30 secs till it begins to splutter. Add the onion, ginger and garlic mince to this.
Saute till the onions become golden-ish in colour. Now chop the rest of the capsicum too, chop it finely, and add to the translucent onions. Isn't the aroma enticing?! Saute for a minute.
Add the tomato puree to it. You can use canned tomatoes if you like, but you know me. I just plop roughly chopped tomatoes in my best friend- the chopper and in a minute, they are pureed! Keep them kinda chunky though. You don't want a smooth paste.
Saute for another minute on a medium low flame and then add in the drained softened, mashed vegetables to this. The veggies should be so soft that if you mash them, they should turn into mush without resistance, which is exactly what you are going to do. Mash them with a masher. Not completely, but about 90% of the way so you can just see bits of green or red or white here and there.
Add the boiled but not mashed green peas.
Combine everything well. Let it all simmer for about 5-8 mins on a medium low flame till almost all the water evaporates. Now add salt, turmeric, red chili powder, coriander and the magical ingredient- the Bhaji pav masala powder.
Don't forget to add your love! Roughly chop up some cashews and add to the mix. Squeeze the lemon juice on to the bhaji and mix.
Your Bhaji is ready. Spoon in 2 tbsp of butter and mix well. While serving top it off with a spoon of butter melting away to glory on the piping hot sensationally spicy Bhaji! Look how the butter has melted and cascaded down the grooves and crevices in the Bhaji. hmmhhmmm
This Bhaji is served with Pav or really soft Indian Bread. The recipe for pav follows. You can get it ready made from stores too if you don't want to put in a lot of work!
The bread that accompanies the Bhaji is always verrrrrrrryy soft. It will like literally melt in your mouth. Even kids without teeth can eat it...it needs to be that soft! Alright, think I've stressed enough on how soft it is and it should be.
Making it at home is as simple as it can be. You just need to plan it in advance. On to it then, shall we?
Time: 2 hours
Tip: Start making the Pav before you start making the Bhaji. This way your bread will have a chance to cool down before you ready it for serving.
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tbsp dry active yeast
3 tbsp melted butter + 2 tbsp melted
75 ml milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
150 ml water
2 tsp sugar
The trick here if you want to make a soft bread, the moisture content needs to be about 55% of the flour used.
To activate the dry yeast, add the sugar to 150ml tepid water and stir to dissolve partially. Make sure the water isn't too hot or else the yeast will not get activated. It should be slightly warmer than room temperature water. Now add the dry yeast in it and stir for a few seconds. In about a couple minutes you'll see foaming on the top of the water which means that yeast has started working and is now activated. Set aside for 10 minutes
Knead to form a very soft dough. It won't even be a proper dough. Just barely enough to hold its shape. If it is too wet, dust a little flour and knead some more. The only way you can tell its right is if it stops sticking to your fingers. Knead for 10 minutes minimum.
Grease a largish bowl- atleast double in size with some oil and place the dough in it. Cover with a damp cloth and since yeast loves warmth, set aside in a warm place. You can now rest a while before you come back to it.
After an hour or so, the dough should've risen to double its size. (Oops, should've taken a bigger bowl!) Take it out of the bowl and punch it a little- yes work those muscles! Blow the air out of the dough. It should become a little smoother now.
Grease the baking tray with butter. Real honest to God butter.
Divide into 10-12 equal portions approx golf ball size or slightly bigger. Now place the balls of dough adjacent to each other.
Cover with damp cloth and leave for another 20 mins. The balls will rise and the spaces between them will lessen. They will almost stick together as if it were a loaf of bread.
Brush the remaining butter on top of the bread. If you want, you can give it an egg wash, a milk wash or just use plain butter. We want the tops to get golden brown.
Now, in a preheated oven place the bread and bake for 15 mins or till the bread has risen and is golden from the top. Remember, it needs to be very soft. Take it out and cool. I baked mine for about 25 mins. Gave them a slightly harder crust. That was enjoyable too if you like having crusty bread! Goes great with soups. But keep an eye because we want the Pav to be as soft as possible.
Tear away individual pieces of bread and your Pav is ready!!
To serve, slice them in half so you have a top and a bottom. I'm partial to the top pieces. Butter them up and heat them in a pan. This infuses the nutty buttery flavour deep into them. Oh how dearly I do love butter!!!
Serve with piping hot Bhaji and a side of finely diced red onions and lemon wedges. Indulge! :))