Pav Bhaji Masala is a spice blend famous for its inclusion in Pav Bhaji. The recipe below is for the homemade masala you will need to make restaurant-worthy Pav Bhaji at home.
This mixture makes about 1 cup of masala and the ingredients are all available in Western grocery stores (and online).
1/2 Tablespoon Coriander Seeds
1 Tablespoon Cumin Seeds
2 Tablespoons Turmeric Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground Cloves
8 Whole Red Chilies, optional (can be omitted if you want a less spicy dish)
Notes: Obviously if you do not have access to any particular ingredient you can use that which you do have. Also I have seen recipes that call for up to 1/3 cup of cayenne pepper and other varieties of chili. Feel free to experiment with your own spice blends and measurements, but if it’s too hot or bland for your taste, try adding more or less of my suggested ingredients.
Pav bhaji masala is a “special seasoning” (even though the recipe is freely available) made by Indian restaurants to add to their signature dish, pav bhaji, also known as Bombay street food.
In this post I’ll tell you how it’s made, where you can buy it online if you don’t have any nearby, and how to use it in your own cooking.
The Recipe: Pav Bhaji Masala
There’s no real recipe for pav bhaji masala. You can mix together any of the following spices to get a result that tastes like the stuff restaurants sell:
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
Pav bhaji masala may contain other spices or ingredients as well, such as fennel and mustard seeds, chili peppers, turmeric, mango powder.
I first tasted pav bhaji at a restaurant and fell in love with it. The following day, I bought fresh vegetables, Indian spices and made it at home. What a wonderful meal! Pav bhaji is an amazing meal that can be served as any time of the day–breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The recipe is very easy to make and doesn’t take much time and palatable too. This spicy mixture can be used to make different kinds of vegetable dishes such as aloo bhaji (potato), eggplant bhaji (baingan bharta) etc.,
Pav Bhaji Masala Powder Recipe
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp chana dal (yellow split peas)
1/4 cup dried curry leaves
How to Make Pav Bhaji Masala Powder:
1. In a dry frying pan heat the coriander seeds and cumin seeds on medium heat for a few minutes until they are fragrant and start popping. Let them cool completely, then grind them in a coffee grinder or a suribachi until fine. Sift through a fine mesh strainer to remove any large pieces left behind
Pav Bhaji is one of those dishes that is best eaten fresh and hot from the pan. It is a typical street food in Mumbai, where I grew up. It is also a dish that is usually made with store-bought masalas. While these are quick to use, they contain preservatives and other nasties. So if you have the time and inclination, why not do it from scratch?
I say “from scratch” but what I really mean is “from whole spices.” This makes a huge difference to the flavor of the dish and it only takes a few minutes more than opening up a jar. I prefer to make this in my wok, but you can use any large, heavy pan with high sides.
You need two kinds of tomatoes – plum tomatoes (for the watery part) and regular tomatoes (for the pulp). The rest can be made with normal red chillies or green bird’s eye chillies (or a mixture), fenugreek leaves, onion, garlic and ginger.”
I have never been to L.A. or to India, but I have eaten a lot of pav bhaji. It’s a simple street food that originated in Mumbai and is now, like tacos, pretty much everywhere.
Tasted one way, it’s just a spicy vegetable curry served with a toasted, buttered bun. Tasted another way, it’s comfort food made with the love and care of a mother for her family.
So what gives one dish its homey charm and the other its soulfulness? And can you make pav bhaji at home?
The main difference between the two dishes is that pav bhaji is made by professionals and eaten by amateurs — people who want to get delicious food fast — whereas homemade pav bhaji is made by people who want to spend an afternoon with their families in the comfort of their own home. Both are good; both are Pav Bhaji.
For the masala: 1/4 cup coriander seeds, 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, and 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Add a generous pinch of ground asafoetida (I like to add this to my mixture).
To make the bhaji: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add 4 cups finely chopped white or cremini mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they give up their liquid and dry out. This should take about 8 minutes.
Toss in the spice mixture, then 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, and stir for another minute. Add 3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then cover the pan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in 2 cups diced onion, lower the heat even further, cover the pan again and cook until the onion is silky smooth, about 5 minutes more. Stir in 1 tablespoon tomato paste and simmer for another minute.
Add 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (this will color everything yellow), and salt if needed to taste (remember that the tomatoes will be