February 22, 2010

Pow! Pow! Pau Bhaji

pau bhaji

Today’s post was going to be something sweet, something deviously sweet. But after the Valentines post I thought it would be really wrong to post another dessert recipe. Sinfully wrong. So you get pau bhaji. Sorry. Okay I’m not sorry, I love pau bhaji; it’s a classic and a favourite at special occasions.

Like raghda patties, pau bhaji is a popular street dish from Maharashtra (those Maharashtrians really know how to rock snack food, huh?) Pau bhaji literally means bread curry. Before you start gagging, it’s not a curry made out of bread; it’s pretty much a spiced vegetable stew served with bread rolls. Hearty fare indeed. I once read somewhere that the longer you cook your bhaji, the better it tastes. I bet that’s true. But sadly I don’t have all the time in the world to stand at the cooker, stirring my bhaji. I adore pau bhaji with plenty of butter, but my thighs seem to disagree. I add only a little butter during cooking (and a little to serve) in order to save around three hours playing the Hula Hoop game on the Wii Fit Plus to burn all of those pesky calories off. I’ve made my own pau (bread) for the benefit of greed you wonderful readers. If you haven’t got the time to make your own bread then just buy ready made (there’s really no problem with shop-bought buns), just remember to toast them a little before serving.

Recently I’ve become really wary about ordering pau bhaji from restaurants. The last couple of times I’ve ordered it it’s been really bland and tasteless. The religion of ‘pau bhajists’ (followed by pau bhaji loonies such as myself) states that the bhaji should be the antithesis of ordinary when it comes to flavour. For this reason I’ve added lots of spice (please don’t faint when you see my ingredients list- it’s all really worth it. If you don’t have some of the spices it’s fine- just leave them out). Please enjoy this pau bhaji recipe with your family and friends (over and over again). Just don’t forget the butter! Unless you have high blood pressure. Then just forget the butter.

pau bhaji 2

Pau Bhaji
(Serves 4-5)

Ingredients for the Bhaji

1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup of minced onions
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2-3 medium hot chillies (I like to use medium hot chillies in order to deliver a piquant flavour without a ‘you just got slapped in the face’ chilli kick
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsps cumin seeds
¼ tsp asafoetida
2 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
½ tsp turmeric
1 ½ cups parboiled and cubed potatoes
2 ½ cups half-cooked (I microwaved) mixed vegetables (I used cauliflower, peas and carrots but sweetcorn, broccoli, green beans etc would also be perfect!)
400g chickpeas, pureed (for a little protein and binding)
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
2 tbsps lemon juice
2-2 ½ cups water
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 ¼ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp fennel powder
¼ cinnamon powder
¼ tsp star anise powder
50g butter


1. Heat the oil in a large, wide pan and gently fry the onions until they’re translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, chillies, mustard seeds (wait for them to pop), cumin seeds, asafoetida and tomato puree. Cook on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Add the mixed vegetables and cook for 10 minutes with around a cup of water. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender and pulse three or four times until roughly pureed.

3. Return to the heat and add -1 ½ cups of water, the potatoes and chickpea puree and season with salt, sugar and lemon juice. Simmer until most of the water has evaporated and the bhaji has thickened.

4. Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, fennel powder, cinnamon powder, star anise powder and butter. Cook for a further 5 minutes and remove from the heat.

pau bhaji 3

Ingredients for the Garlic and Cumin Pau

500g strong bread flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 packet of easy blend yeast
260-300ml lukewarm water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp cumin, toasted in a dry pan until fragrant (this only takes around 30 seconds so watch them constantly or they will catch and burn)

pau bhaji rolls cumin and garlic


1. Sift together the flour and salt and add the yeast, garlic and toasted cumin. Combine and make a well in the centre of the flour.

2. Gradually add the water and combine the mixture with a spoon until you’re able to knead it.

3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a full 10 minutes.

4. Divide the dough into 90g pieces and roll into balls. Place these on a lined baking tray and keep in a warm place for 15 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. After fifteen minutes transfer the risen dough balls into the oven for around 15-20 minutes until golden.

If you have any leftovers you can…

1. Make a pau-bhaji toastie! Kids will love this; a toasted sandwich with bhaji filling, a little cheese, some onions. Perfect for lunch!

2. Make samosas! Or little puff pastry canapés.

3. Use your bhaji as a nacho topper with cheese, guacamole, onions, sour cream and jalapenos.

Did you make this?

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45 responses to “Pow! Pow! Pau Bhaji”

  1. A 2 Z Vegetarian Cuisine says:

    Thats indeed is a healthy pau bhaji…anytime welcome..I at-least make once in every 2 weeks..actually can have everyday 😉

  2. Asha says:

    Love the combo, make a dinner out of it. Looks perfect!:)

  3. Priya says:

    Thats a delicious and tempting pav bhaji, my all time favourite, can have them anytime..

  4. Trix says:

    Well, I will definitely want to make that bread, I can practically smell it through your gorgeous photo. Bread is my weakness. And I actually have almost every ingredient on your list! This is why things are always falling out of my spice cupboard. : ( Beautiful dish, and the colors in your photos are incredibly appetizing. Mmmm.

  5. Sharmilee! :) says:

    Healthy pau bhajis…nice combo, bright clicks!!

  6. Sandhya Hariharan says:

    its a brilliant combo… I can have it anytime tooo

  7. Preeti Kashyap says:

    yummy, my fav street food! And this one looks delicious. I agree, the one you get at restaurants are tasteless and bland.

  8. Tina says:

    Tempting and beautiful……

  9. indosungod says:

    Pav bhaji make gluttons out of normal folks. I am happy about that too. The cumin buns have me craving now.

  10. Cool Lassi(e) says:

    Excellent dish and beautifully presented. Love to have it RIGHT NOW!

  11. AshKuku says:

    Lovely is not the word I know….. But still lovely!!!! The prep, present & capt….. Loved everything about this post….. PICTURE PERFECT!!!


  12. Aparna Vijay says:

    Yum Yum Yummy!!!!

  13. Pari says:

    Hi Sanjana. Lovely recipe and full of spices. Can have this anyday and always prefer hommade version.

  14. 5 Star Foodie says:

    What a delicious and aromatic dish! I would love to try this specialty! A terrific combination of ingredients and spices!

  15. artipatel88 says:

    Mmmh Yum Yum is all I'm going to say! Well Done on making your own bread! 🙂

  16. 3 hungry tummies says:

    Very nice indeed! The photos are great!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Pau Bhaji yum yum!

  18. My Experiments with Food says:

    Lovely clicks Sanjana…as usual 🙂 I can see that you haven't used pau bhaji masala… but used the spices separately.
    I always use the ready made spice mix, but yours looks just perfect. Will try your recipe for sure.

  19. Arti says:

    very very tempting indeed…. great pics…the pav looks a bit different from the ones we get in Mumbai. Hope they are as tasty..


  20. Vegetable Matter says:

    Sanjana, this looks fantastic! We ate at a Gujarati restaurant here in Houston this weekend, and honestly just about ate ourselves sick. Everything was perfectly seasoned, vegetarian, and delicious. I wish you had been with us to give us all the secrets behind the amazing food we ate!

  21. Vaishali Sharma says:

    Love It……Pau bhaji is one of the best Bombay food…totally love and make it quite often.
    Your looks gr8 and excellent clicks

  22. simply.food says:

    My 1st time here ,You have awonderful selection of recipes and the clicks are amazing.

  23. Food o' del Mundo says:

    Gorgeous photos! I too don't like to be"slapped in the face" with my chilis 😉 ~Mary

  24. Jennifer@womanvfood says:

    Another great post Sanjana! I really love the title as well. 🙂

  25. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    I've been wanting to try this dish forever! Yours looks really satisfying. And I love that big pat of buttah on top =D.

  26. Cooking Foodie says:

    Beautiful photo… and pav bhaji is my favorite too…

  27. Ju (The Little Teochew) says:

    OMG. Sanjana … you have me drooling!!! That is something I'd gladly eat day or night! Nothing is more satisfying than moping up a good (buttery) curry with freshly baked bread.

  28. notyet100 says:

    me droolin here

  29. Gulmohar says:

    yes, yes yes…at any time 😀 Your garlic-cumin pav sounds interesting..Would love to try it sometimes

  30. Siddhi S says:

    wow sanjana pav bhaji is one of my favourites…ur pav bhaji looks very tempting n yummy…lovely healthy recipe n bread is also very fluffy

  31. Anjum says:

    My fav street food!! Love your presentation.Great blog!
    Do drop by at http://anjuskitchentreasures.blogspot.com/

  32. Preety says:

    pao bhaji always reminds me of India..looks so yummy

  33. Padhu says:

    Pav bhahi is my favorite .Your picture looks fabulous that I am craving for it now .I like that bowl also

  34. Jaishree says:

    Pav bhaji is my fav… love your presentation..pavbhaji looks yummy!

  35. Rohini says:

    My fav street food too.. Who doesnt like it btw? I mean lots of people in this world are pau-bhajists and pani-purist!! 😀
    Loved ur presentation, as always… Wanted to have this for a long time now, today I am off buy the buns..

  36. Anonymous says:

    Roasted Aubergine can be added with other ingredients?

    saint bapu

  37. Lori says:

    Sounds absolutely delicious!

  38. Divina Pe says:

    You make vegetarian food really good. I will definitely remember the butter. 🙂

  39. MaryMoh says:

    That's such a healthy meal, light and delicious. I love the bright colour…looks so refreshing and healthy! I would love to try the pau.

  40. Haddock says:

    I love the look of that pav.

  41. zurin says:

    ooohhh this sounds delicious!!!! i never knew you called it pau as well..how interesting. ^^

  42. Jagruti says:

    Hi Sanjana
    First time here…awesome recipes and space!! nice to see some UK fellow bloggers!! pav bhaji looks so delicious and tasty…

    I've posted pav bhaji recipe some time back..come and see my version too..

    cheers and Happy Holi..

  43. pigpigscorner says:

    Nice clicks! Looks amazing, love all the spices here!

  44. Hana says:

    I made this recipe tonight with cauliflower and carrot as the vegetables, and it was great! Thanks for the recipe.

  45. Stacy says:

    Beautiful dish and photos as always! Wish I could come over for dinner one day 🙂 Hope you are well!

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