Pav Bhaji is popular Indian street food that is meant to be a quick, healthy, nutritious meal for Mumbai’s workers.  It is an icon of the city where dinner rolls/buns are served with spicy mashed veggies topped with dollop of butter. There are a lot of bold flavors in this dish with many layers. A special blend of spices known as pav bhaji masala is used to flavor the dish, which is finished with lots of butter and cilantro. It’s the perfect vegetarian dish.

We offer our version of this famous Indian street food originating in Mumbai which is still spicy and flavorful, but with a few twists. “Pav” means dinner rolls, and “Bhaji” means a vegetable dish. We tried the classic version where most of the vegetables are mashed.  We decided to try keeping the veggies whole, which had a lot more crunch and character.  We also eliminated the dinner rolls (who thought of that, anyway) and served our version on basmati rice. Lastly, we tried 2 versions: one with russet potatoes, and the other with sweet potatoes.  Our tasters loved the sweet potato version. So we are not exactly making Pav Bhaji, but our version is just as easy and oh so tasty.

The ingredients are easy to find and won’t require you to completely restock your pantry.


This recipe can be easily made vegan by replacing butter with vegan butter or coconut oil. If you have never had this in your life, you are seriously missing out!

Pav Bhaji without the Pav

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian


  • 1 large Sweet potato, peeled, cut into wedges not more than 1 inch. The traditional is russet potato which works fine
  • 1 medium Carrot, peeled, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 cups Cauliflower, cleaned, cut into florets
  • 4 tbsp Vegetable oil Canola or safflower work best
  • 2 tbsp Sea salt
  • 1 large Red onion, cut into about 1/4 inch julienne pieces
  • 1 Bell pepper, ribs & seeds removed, diced We used red but green is traditional
  • 1 Green chili pepper (such as serrano), seeded, diced Use more if you like it hotter
  • 8 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 24 grams Ginger (peeled), finely chopped About 2 inches of ginger
  • 3 tbsp Tomato paste You can use 2 large tomatoes
  • 6 tbsp Unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp Ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Red chili powder such as cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp Ground tumeric
  • 1/2 cup Frozen peas
  • 1 tsp Garam masala
  • 2 tbsp Fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup Fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Cooked basmati rice The traditional way to serve is with dinner rolls. We liked the dish with rice.


  • Set your oven to 420 F. Toss the potato, carrot, and cauliflower together in a bowl with 2 tbsp vegetable oil and 1 tbsp salt. Place the vegetables on a sheet pan, then roast until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • Put 2 tbsp vegetable oil into a Dutch oven or deep saute pan. Heat oil on medium high. Add the red onion, bell peppers, and green chili. Cook while stirring occasionally for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, coriander, ground cumin, paprika, red chili powder, and 4 tbsp butter then stir for 2-3 minutes until the mixture slightly darkens.
  • Pour in 2 cups of water, then the frozen peas and cook while stirring for 5 minutes. Add in the roasted vegetables and the remaining butter. Add salt to taste.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the garam masala, the fresh lime juice, and the chopped cilantro. Add more salt to taste.
Keyword Indian cuisince, Pav Bhaji, vegetarian
Print Friendly, PDF & Email