Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pau Bhaji

Today is going to be carb overload day. I have only myself to blame as I give in to temptation. Sunday lunch is a toss up between burgers and pau bhaji...and it is the latter that prevails by popular demand. To choose a veggie over meat does say a lot for male appetites!!! I'm not complaining, just commenting.

Of course my choice is Yukon Golds. But we are having steak and potatoes for dinner and I would rather eat buttery mashed potatoes with my rib eye.  As usual, I have a choice of potatoes stashed in the larder. I ponder over fingerlings and Red Bliss, ultimately choosing Russets. Actually, they make a much better pau bhaji than any of the others. It's just the way they melt into the bhaji, not quite holding their shape, adding much needed texture. You get a spreadable mash that goes on ever so smoothly on crusty bread. 

Pau bhaji, one of the many street foods of Bombay, reigns supreme at Sardars. This soupy plate of masala potatoes, cauliflower and peas comes swimming in butter, complemented with a generously buttered bun. It is sinfully rich, a plateful to be indulged in rarity...hey! I'm talking about myself. Mine is a much sanitized, less greasy but altogether delicious version.

Serves 4

6 medium sized Russet Potatoes
1 large Onion
2 large Carrots
1 cup frozen Peas
3 tablespoons Canola Oil
3 tablespoons Pau Bhaji Masala ( Everest or Badshah brand )
1-2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Water
Red Onion, cut in thin slivers
12 Slider Buns
1/2-3/4 cup Butter or Smart Balance butter.

Wash potatoes. Place in a large saucepan, cover with water and boil till done, about 15 minutes. 

Peel and chop into bite size chunks.

Boil carrots in water till done. Chop them into chunks.

Peel and cut onion into fine dice.

Heat oil in nonstick saucepan on a high flame. When hot, add onion and saute for a few minutes till translucent and pale.

Add potato and carrot chunks and saute.

Add peas, frozen or defrosted.

Sprinkle pau bhaji masala and salt and stir to mix.

Lower flame so potatoes do not scorch. 

Add water, mix well and cover with a lid. Let potatoes cook for 10 minutes to absorb masala.

Stir and smush them from time to time. The more you smush, the creamier the texture gets. You want a smooth, almost runny consistency. 

Start broiler. Set it to high.

Open slider buns so they lie flat. Place them on a sheet pan.

Butter generously.

Slide them under the hot broiler for 4-5 minutes. WATCH THEM CAREFULLY AT THIS POINT. Or else be prepared to eat singed, charred buns.

Drop a heaping spoonful of pau bhaji on one half of a bun. Top with sliced onion. Place another bun half over bhaji and chow down. Or put some bhaji on a plate and use the bread like you would a roti or chapatti. 


Use any potato available to you. Russets and Burbanks make the perfect gooey mess. Yukons hold their shape too well, though I love their taste.

You could saute the buns stove top on a nonstick pan or tava. That takes forever and I am not prepared to eat my lunch when everyone finishes. Selfish me. So I broil the buns in one shot. Everyone gets to eat them hot, fresh and golden brown. Sometimes singed.

Buns emerge from the oven crusty, some singed, some golden brown. Pau bhaji is portioned out generously. Rehan separates bhaji and bread. Thats his thing. The rest of us obediently follow the recipe. There is not much conversation to be heard as we chomp away. There aren't too many vegetarian favorites in my house so I'm happy this lunch ends well. Then I begin the Yukon Gold mash for dinner..... Potato / potaato... All in all, a day of carb heaven.