Instant Pot Mumbai Pav Bhaji

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Loaded with veggies and butter, Mumbai Pav bhaji is one of the most popular street foods in India. You will be hooked after the first bite of this delicious bhaji (vegetable dish). Serve it with crispy buttered pav (soft dinner rolls) for a complete gastronomical experience.

Instant Pot Pav bhaji served with a silver of butter, finely chopped onions, and lemon wedges in a black bowl
Mumbai Pav Bhaji

Who invented Pav Bhaji?

Pav bhaji (pronounced paav bhaaji) has a huge fan following with Indians in every corner of the world but what few folks know is that this dish originated as a quick midnight meal for factory workers in Mumbai in the mid-1800s. Pav bhaji was made by mashing leftover vegetables and then combining it with a medley of spices and butter and served alongside pav (the Portuguese word for bread).

What started off as a humble roadside snack has become insanely popular – from roadside stalls to fine dining restaurants, pav bhaji has made a permanent place for itself in Indian restaurant menus worldwide.

Ingredients in Pav bhaji 

Well, pav bhaji does contain an assortment of vegetables but that doesn’t mean you can throw in anything. I tried that once, and threw in some beans and beetroots, to work some extra veggies in our meals, but that kind of altered the taste. I will tell you this: my family was not too pleased.

The veggies that work best with Pav bhaji are potatoes, cauliflower, peas, carrots, and capsicum.

How to make Mumbai pav bhaji at home

There are two ways you can make pav bhaji –

  1. Stovetop – Boil the veggies in the pressure cooker and mash the veggies, make the base gravy in a wok/kadhai and combine them together. This is how pav bhaji was traditionally made before Instant Pot came into the picture. 
  2. Instant Pot method – Make the base gravy, add the veggies and pressure cook them together. Once the pressure cooker cools down, you mash the contents with a potato masher or an immersion blender.

Making pav bhaji in an Instant Pot is a breeze and all it takes is 15 minutes. The process involves – 

  1. Sauteeing the onions in oil till it is soft and translucent. 
  2. Add tomatoes, along with the chopped vegetables, Kashmiri chili powder, salt, pav bhaji masala and 1.5 cups of water. 
  3. Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes and when the cycle is complete, carefully release pressure. 
  4. Use an immersion blender or a potato masher, to blend the veggies to a puree. 
  5. In a small tempering pan, add a tablespoon of butter and once it melts, add Kashmiri chili powder and a teaspoon of pav bhaji masala and mix well. Take off heat immediately and pour this mixture over the pureed bhaji. Mix well. 
  6. Add a tablespoon of lime juice and garnish it with coriander leaves. 
  7. Serve with buttery and crispy homemade or store-bought pav or dinner rolls.  

How to saute the pav for pav bhaji

The perfect pav that accompanies the bhaji is slightly crisp on the inside and soft and buttery on the outside. I love to add a pinch of dried fenugreek leaves and pav bhaji masala during sauteing. These two small additions are game-changers – they enhance the flavor and make the pav bhaji even more delectable. 

  1. Slice the dinner rolls or pav into halves.
  2. Add 1/2 a tablespoon of butter to your frying pan kept over medium heat.
  3. Once the butter heats up, add about 1/4 teaspoon of both dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) and pav bhaji masala to the melted butter. Immediately place a couple of pav slices on top and saute them until they are slightly brown on both sides.

How do I get the gorgeous red color in my Pav Bhaji?

Please don’t add red coloring to your Pav bhaji like the roadside hawkers blatantly do. We don’t need any chemical additives in our homecooked meals. The ideal way to get that orangish-red hue in your pav bhaji is to use Kashmiri chili powder and follow the tempering process as explained above. 

What is the best pav bhaji masala brand?

MDH and Everest are my preferred brands when it comes to Pav Bhaji masala. If you prefer making it at home, here’s a good recipe for you to use. 

What is a good substitute for pav bhaji masala?

Pav bhaji masala shares a lot of ingredients with garam masala and gets its tang from dry mango powder. Substitute 2 teaspoons of pav bhaji masala with 1 teaspoon garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon dry mango powder (amchoor). 

Is Pav bhaji healthy?

Hell no! Considering the amount of butter that goes in the traditional preparation of the bhaji as well as in sauteeing the pav, there is no way we can categorize it as healthy in spite of the fact that it is loaded with veggies.

If you want a healthier version of pav bhaji, skip the butter and use olive or peanut oil to cook the bhaji (vegetable curry) like in this pav bhaji recipe, and use ghee to saute the pav.

Pav bhaji is supposed to be a once-in-a-while culinary treat, so if you are following that rule, go ahead and indulge your senses.

Pav bhaji served with a silver of butter, finely chopped onions, crispy pav and lemon wedges
Instant Pot Pav Bhaji

Got a new Instant Pot? Check out the links below to make the most of your pressure cooker - 

Some of my other favorite vegetarian recipes to make in the Instant Pot include – 
  1. Channa masala – Punjabi Chana Masala (Choley) popularly known as the Indian Chickpea Curry is a crowd-pleaser. This vegan one-pot curry can be made in an Instant Pot as well as a stovetop Pressure cooker. Get all the deets on how to make this delicious curry at home!
  2. Rajma chawal – Use your pressure cooker or Instant Pot to make this quick & delicious Dhaba style Punjabi rajma masala. While you can serve it with rotis, the combination of rajma and chawal (rice) is what makes this dish truly special.
  3. Dum Aloo – This easy and delicious Punjabi style Dum Aloo gravy is perfect for families who want to savor this lovely dish without spending hours in the kitchen. Leverage your Instant Pot and make it in about 40-minutes.
  4. Instant Pot aloo matar – this simple peas and potato curry recipe is perfect for days when you want a fuss-free meal that is easy to make and delicious. Pair it with roti or rice to make it a complete meal.
  5. Paneer butter masala – Learn how to make your favorite take-out curry – Restaurant-style Paneer Butter Masala or Paneer Makhani at home in less than 40 minutes!
  6. Aloo Gobi – Learn how to make this Punjabi-style cauliflower and potato curry in less than 30 minutes using an Instant Pot or over the stovetop. 


Got a new Instant Pot? Check out the links below to make the most of your pressure cooker -  

This recipe was originally published in January of 2018 and was updated with step-by-step pictures as well as instructions on July 17, 2019. 

Instant Pot Pav bhaji served with a silver of butter, finely chopped onions, and lemon wedges in a black bowl

Mumbai Pav Bhaji

5 from 2 votes
Loaded with veggies and butter, Pav bhaji is one of the most loved street food in India. Learn how to make Pav bhaji in an Instant Pot or a traditional pressure cooker in about 30 minutes.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8
Diet : Vegetarian
Course : Main Course
Method: Instant Pot, Stovetop
Cuisine : Indian

Ingredients
 
 

To be pressure cooked

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil , or salted butter
  • 1.5 cups chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup capsicum / green bell pepper cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons pav bhaji masala
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

For tempering

Garnishing

  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges
  • ½ cup finely cut onions
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro

For the Pav

Instructions
 

Instant Pot Method

  • Add oil in the steel insert of the Instant Pot. Press the ‘Saute’ button, and adjust the heat setting to ‘Normal’. Once the display reads ‘Hot’, add oil (or butter, if using).
  • Once the oil heats up, add onions along with ginger and garlic. Sauté them till it is soft and translucent (takes about 5 minutes).
  • Add tomatoes, along with the chopped vegetables, Kashmiri chili powder, salt, pav bhaji masala and 1.5 cups of water. Close the lid and place the vent in sealing position.
  • Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. When the cycle is complete, wait for 5 minutes before carefully releasing pressure.
  • Use an immersion blender or a potato masher, to blend the veggies to a puree or a coarse mixture (as desired).

Stovetop pressure cooker method

  • Add oil in a stovetop pressure cooker placed over medium heat.
  • Once the oil heats up, add onions along with ginger and garlic. Sauté them till it is soft and translucent (takes about 5 minutes).
  • Add tomatoes, along with the chopped vegetables, Kashmiri chili powder, salt, pav bhaji masala and 1.5 cups of water. Close the lid and place the vent.
  • Cook till the vent goes off 3 times. Switch off the gas.
  • Once the cooker has cooled down, open the lid carefully.
  • Use an immersion blender or a potato masher, to blend the veggies to a puree or a coarse mixture (as desired).

Tempering for color and taste

  • In a small tempering pan, add a tablespoon of butter and once it melts, add asafoetida, 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder and a teaspoon of pav bhaji masala and mix well.
  • Take off heat immediately and pour this mixture over the pureed bhaji and stir it in.
  • Add a tablespoon of lime juice to the pav bhaji. Mix well.
  • Do a taste test and adjust the seasonings. Add more chili powder, salt, lime juice, and pav bhaji masala as needed.
  • Cook it for 5 minutes on low heat to allow the flavors to meld in.

Pan-frying Pav

  • Slice the pav into two halves.
  • Add 1/2 a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan kept over medium heat.
  • Once the butter heats up, add a pinch of both dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) and pav bhaji masala to the melted butter.
  • Place 4 halves of the pav on top and saute them on both sides until they are slightly brown. Repeat the process for the rest of the pav slices.

Serving suggestions

  • Garnish the pav bhaji with chopped onions and cilantro.
  • Place a sliver of butter on top of the bhaji and lemon wedges on the side.
  • Squeeze lime juice over the pav bhaji and savor it with crispy, buttered pav (bread).

Notes

  1. Go easy on the salt, if you are using salted butter to make the dish. For the most authentic taste, use Amul butter (can be found in Indian stores). 
  2. To make a healthy version of Pav bhaji, skip the salted butter and use olive or peanut oil instead. 
  3. Substitute for Pav bhaji masala – Substitute 2 teaspoons of pav bhaji masala with 1 teaspoon garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon dry mango powder (amchoor). 

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Disclosure: This recipe contains affiliate links to products we love and recommend. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition

Calories: 356kcalCarbohydrates: 51gProtein: 10gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 799mgPotassium: 683mgFiber: 8gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 3235IUVitamin C: 53.5mgCalcium: 184mgIron: 5.2mg

Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

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Keyword : Mumbai Street food, Pao bhaji, Street food

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