Pav Bhaji

One of those mis-mash meals that you think are weird, but turn out delightful.


In India, street food is very popular. My favorite is chaat (oh my, mouth watering). Chaat can be many things, my favorite is pani-poori. “poori” is basically fried bread. Pani poori uses mini ones, about the size of a ritz cracker. You fill it with a few pieces of potatoes, chickpeas, some tomatoes or cilantro, top it with tamarind chutney, mint-cilantro chutney, a drizzle of yogurt, and dip it into dirty (meaning spiced- with cumin coriander chilies, flavors galore!) water (pani = water). or well, any combination of the fillings, then dip it into the water. Okay, that’s a whole other post, and I need to focus here or I’m going to leave to get some chaat….. (drool)


yogurt chaat

pani poori

raj k


Anyways, my mom started making pav bhaji at home for her and my step dad a lot when I wasn’t here. Pav bhaji is traditionally a mash of potatoes served on a mini bun. She makes it as a leftovers type of dish, adding in a bunch of spices, leftover veggie odds and ends, and bits of any cooked leftovers. I don’t love it the traditional simple way (mainly potatoes), but we’ve changed it up a few times and I’ve found that sometimes– it is exactly what I was in the mood for. Its creamy, hearty, spicy (if you’d like!), and oh so flavorful.

Now, potatoes do get a bad rep. However, as long as you don’t eat too much (as with any food, or any starch), they’re great! They have a good amount of potassium actually, and fiber. Combined with the other veggies and spices, you’ll love this.

Now as I said, it’s an odds and ends dish. I’ll share the recipe that I’ve found is my favorite, but you don’t have to follow that to a T! Try it out one day, then mix it up whenever you need. Consider it a new take on the American mashed potatoes.

(more notes and options at the end)



(my mom likes to peel the skins, but I love them!)


Pav Bhaji


4 medium russet potatoes

1 medium sweet potato or yam

2 c cauliflower (optional)

1 c zucchini

1.5 c lima beans

1/2 c carrots

1/2 bag frozen mixed veggies

~1c leftover dal or bean soup (optional)

celery stalk hearts

1-2 bell peppers

optional additions: onion (sautéed or not), corn, green beans, frozen mixed bag of veggies, leftover cooked greens

cilantro and tomatoes to top

spices/flavor additions:

1 jalapeno

2-4tbsp salsa

1/2 a large lemon or 1 lime, cut, juice squeezed into the pot and the whole fruit added

2-3 tbsp. pav bhaji mix, or a combination of the spices listed, AND 1tsp cumin, 1tsp tamarind

you could try: 1.5 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. coriander, 1/2tsp chili, 1/3 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. dried mango (if you have it, it adds tang), sprinkle of ginger, fennel seed, clove, turmeric, cardamom.

you could also use channa masala or garam masala and add other spices to your liking, if you have them.




1. Scrub your potatoes well, and peel some skin off. Cut them into chunks, and rinse them a few times with cold water. Put them in the large pot, filled with cold water, and let them soak for ~5 minutes. Rinse them again, then fill with cold water and boil, then let them simmer until almost tender. Drain and reserve some water.

2. Heat the pot of potatoes over medium and roughly mash, leaving them semi chunky. Add the rest of the veggies. Add liquid as needed. Bring to a “boil” then add the spices of choice. Let it simmer for at least 20-30 minutes. Serve, garnished with a hefty amount of cilantro and tomatoes. Tastes even better the next day.


just after adding the veggies


adding the spices and stirring


The options are endless! Today, we used potatoes, a bag of mixed corn/peas/carrots (aka not my fav), greens, and a bag of California veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, zucchini).


My mom’s plate! Bhaji on a bun with some tomato, more on the side.

The cauliflower is optional, leave it out to keep it IBS friendly, and add much zucchini or squash. Steamed cauli is fine for me, and I like it because it lightens the heavi-ness potatoes sometimes have. I looove the lima beans in there, and sometimes adding dal adds flavor and some more protein from the lentils. The lemon adds some freshness, and you can even add some vinegar (I added some from homemade “pickled” hot peppers), or even just some hot sauce. But do NOT skip the lemon, cilantro, or tomatoes. We were out of fresh cilantro Crying face

Also, this clearly makes a lot. Make a smaller amount of make this, and have leftovers for days!


Let me know if you have any questions!


~Masala Girl

how do you feel about potatoes? do you like comfort mashes?

how about Indian food? (you better like it. or well, more for me!)

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