Writing about what feeds me.
Pav Bhaji (bao bah-gee) – famous street food from India, unlike anything I’d ever had before. I had not experienced its spicy tastiness since my trip to the subcontinent at the end of 2010. While recreating pani puri was a pretty big freakin deal, this is by far an even greater feat.
While I haven’t ventured into the realm of cooking Indian food entirely from scratch (I use pre-mixed spices from a box), a lot of thought, research and planning still goes into each of these endeavors. I don’t like messing up, for one, and two, since I anticipate enjoying these dishes so much myself, I want to make sure they’re the bomb. Not to mention, someone else is always trying this food (oftentimes) for the first time and I want their experience to be a good one.
To appreciate the true “beauty” of this ubiquitous street fare, you gotta check out this video from Juhu Beach in Mumbai. The way they prepare this stuff in mass quantity, on a HUGE iron dish and with much speed and non-stop mashing is quite a sight to behold. I recall one evening in India, slightly inebriated, wondering what on EARTH that mushy, red stuff was, but once I tried it (and tried it and tried it again), I was loving it!
Since I don’t have the same hardcore mashing tool or set-up that the Mumbaikars have, I boiled my vegetables (there are so many variations of ingredients that it almost doesn’t matter what you put in, as long as there are potatoes) forever long while I chopped up my onions and tomatoes for the masala. Once that was ready, I simply combined the two together…
While tempted to blend it, I think the consistency came out just fine. Yes, it is true: the actual street-food version is mashed to the point where NO ingredients are recognizable. For me, however, I ain’t got time nor patience for that! Besides, looking at other Pav bhaji recipes and results, I can see that it really doesn’t matter how it looks, but more so how it tastes… and, cotdamn, does it taste AMAZING!
– I used half of a large red onion, one very large tomato, 4 cloves of minced garlic and almost 2 Tbls of minced ginger. To this, I added half a chopped jalapeno for the masala. As for spices, I used approx. 4 Tbls of the pre-mixed powder and maybe 2 Tbls of salt. 3 pats of butter also went into the whole mixture, along with about 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro.
– Vegetables: Half a head of cauliflower, 3 cups of baby potatoes, 2 large carrots, one whole red bell pepper, one chopped jalapeno
– The buns were par-baked soft rolls from Adonis, but I forgot to butter both sides while baking (slightly too long) at approx. 400 degrees in the oven. As shown on Vahrehvah’s video, I melted butter in a pan and prepared the buns additionally in the same manner.
* Successfully did NOT burn any of the ingredients during cooking process by keeping heat not much higher than Medium and adding a little bit of water as necessary.
– Lime and chopped onion as an accompaniment are really key to sprucing up the taste of this dish.
Juhu Beach Stylee