Who is this Khan-bhai, you ask? Well, he was the office boy-cum-cleaner-cum-helper-cum-cook at the OH’s firm’s Delhi-based guest house, once upon a time. He is now well settled in a government job and the OH has no contact with him, but a part of him is still with us – his recipe for paav bhaaji.
Back in Khan-bhai‘s days, the OH would come back from his trips to Delhi raving about the paav bhaaji he had been served. So much so that I started craving for it, too, and wanted him to bring back a dabba of the deliciousness back home. That never happened, thanks to the OH’s erratic comings-and-goings to Delhi, but he did get fed up of my bugging and put me on a call to Khan-bhai one New Year’s eve. Khan-bhai was thrilled. In between New Year wishes and his proclamations of ‘Bhabhiji, mujhe Bangalore aana hai,’ the recipe for paav bhaaji, his style, was shared. No prizes for guessing what was for dinner at our house that evening! (As much as I love the sharing of recipes, I love listening to stories of how a particular recipe came into a particular household. Do you, too?)
Till date, Khan-bhai‘s paav bhaaji remains a favourite in our household, and I always make a big potful of it whenever I do. Same story today.
Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients (for 2 people):
2 tablespoons of oil
Fresh coriander leaves (finely chopped, for garnishing)
Slices of bread/paav (for serving)
The juice of 1 lemon (or to taste)
Paav bhaaji masala (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
Garam masala (to taste)
Chaat masala (to taste)
Red chilli powder (to taste)
Turmeric powder – 1-1/2 teaspoon
2 large onions (finely chopped)
3 large tomatoes (finely chopped)
A 1-inch piece of ginger (peeled and chopped)
5-6 pods of garlic (peeled)
3 medium-sized potatoes
1/4 of a large head of cauliflower
1/4 of a large head of cabbage
About 15 French beans
2 medium-sized carrots (peeled)
A handful of green peas (shelled)
1. Cut the potatoes into large chunks and boil them with a little salt and water. When they cool, skin and mash them. Keep aside.
2. Chop the beans, carrots, capsicum, cauliflower and cabbage into medium-sized pieces. Boil these vegetables along with the peas, adding very little water and a bit of salt. Keep aside.
3. Grind the ginger and garlic cloves to a paste in a mixer, adding a bit of water if required. Keep aside.
4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. When it is nice and hot, add the asafoetida to it.
5. Add the ginger-garlic paste to the pan. Saute for about a minute.
6. Add the finely chopped onions. Cook till they get a bit brown. Then, add the tomatoes and cook till they get mushy.
7. Add the boiled vegetables (other than the potato) along with the minimal amount of water you have used to boil them in.
8. Add the salt, paav bhaaji masala, red chilli powder, garam masala, chaat masala to taste and the turmeric powder. Be careful while adding the salt – remember you have already added some while boiling the vegetables. Mix well.
9. Add the mashed potatoes and mix well. Cook everything together for 5-7 minutes. Add more water, if required. If you feel the vegetable chunks are too big, you can use a masher to get a more even consistency.
10. When the bhaaji is almost done, add the lemon juice and mix well. Let it cook for a couple more minutes.
11. Turn off the flame of the gas and add the chopped coriander leaves. Mix well.
Serve the bhaaji with a dollop of butter on top, bread/paav slices toasted with butter, wedges of lemon and finely chopped onions.
How do you make paav bhaaji? Is it a favourite at your place, too?