Cheater’s Pav Bhaji
2-3 tbsp oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 pint jar or 1 small can of tomatoes
1 tbsp grated garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
4-5 cups of frozen mixed veggies, chopped cauliflower and peppers
5-6 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pint water or more as needed
1 tbsp pav bhaji masala
1 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp salt
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp butter for the bhaji
3-4 tortas, quartered
Butter for the cast-iron griddle
1/4 red onion or green onions, chopped fine, for garnish
1/3 cup chopped cilantro for garnish
Pour 2-3 tablespoons of any neutral cooking oil into the pan of your pressure cooker (at least 5liters in size). I prefer avocado oil.
Dice a medium white or yellow onion, just short of two cups. When half the onion is diced, turn on the heat under the pressure cooker pan and set it to medium-high. Once the onion is diced, add it to the pan and sauté for a minute or so.
Grab a pint jar of tomatoes you canned late summer or if you didn’t, a BPA-fee can of tomatoes and empty it into the pressure cooker.
Break down the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, if they are not diced. Stir.
Peel and grate 4-5 medium cloves of garlic, or as many required to make about 1 tbsp of grated garlic.
Peel and grate a knob of ginger, to yield at least as much as the garlic. A little more is just fine.
Add ginger and garlic to the pan.
Next up are the veggies. I like to use frozen mixed veggies, cauliflower and peppers. But I make do with whatever I have. Add a total of 4-5 cups of veggies. Last night, I only had frozen mixed veggies so I went with that. Ensure that the total food level is not more than 2/3rds of the pressure pan, for safety reasons.
Wash, peel, dice 5-6 medium red potatoes and add to the pan. Also use the tomato jar to add a pint of water to the pan.
Pull out your masalas. I like Badshah’s pav bhaji masala. Dabeli masala also works in a pinch. I like to increase the tang by adding chaat masala. Add 1 tbsp of pav bhaji masala, 1 tsp of chaat masala and 1 tsp of salt. Always check if your spice blends have salt in them. Add those first, taste some of the liquid and only then estimate the amount of salt you need. It is better to err on the lower side.
Shut the pressure cooker, put the weight on and cook on medium high until one pressure release, about 7-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pressure subside on its own.
While this is cooking and cooling, clear up as much as you can and start prepping the garnishes. You will need some onion (any will do, just not sweet Vidalia), some cilantro, some green chile (I skipped it). You will also need some butter and some lemon juice.
I had a quarter red onion in my fridge so I used that up. I salvaged some cilantro from my crisper. I also had a sliced lemon in my fridge that I pulled out.
Put your cast-iron griddle on the stove and heat it on medium.
Once the pressure cooker can be opened safely, blend the contents with a hand blender until smooth. Add 1 tbsp of butter and squeeze in juice of at least half a lemon. Mix and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
I like to use tortas as pav. There have been times when I have made my own laadi-pav but a rushed weeknight does not have enough time for that. Quarter the tortas so that they can be lightly toasted in butter on the griddle.
Serve the pav bhaji either on top of toasted torta or alongside the torta. Garnish with onions and cilantro.
This is not how pav bhaji is made on the streets of Bombay. This is a cheat’s method of getting similar flavors in about half hour of cooking and prepping. Use this as a guideline rather than gospel. If you need it spicier, add some red chile powder or add green chiles with the ginger-garlic. Add more butter if you want to make it richer.
This makes a lot of bhaji. We got one dinner out of it and four lunch boxes, two in the refrigerator and two in the freezer. Potatoes don’t thaw very well once frozen but when mashed, their texture doesn’t become unappetizing once thawed. Pav bhaji, therefore, is a great candidate for my frozen lunch boxes.