Pav Bhaji
Perfectly cooked vegetables are spiced with pav bhaji masala, a fragrant blend of coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, fennel, and cardamom. Piled atop a toasty, sweet bun, it’s sure to satisfy vegetarians and meat lovers alike!
Recipe type: Main
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 2 in (5 cm)
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 6 yukon gold potatoes, (about 1¾ pounds 795 grams ), peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (5 cups)
  • 3 beefsteak tomatoes, (about 1½ pounds 680 grams), cored and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces (4 cups)
  • 1 cup frozen english peas (150 g)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chile powder, divided
  • 1 cup cold water (240 mL), divided, plus more as needed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup red onion (150 g), minced, plus more serving
  • 3 jalapeñoes, seeds and ribs removed, minced (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste (55 g)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro (20 g), plus more for serving
  • 6 soft buns, toasted and buttered, for serving
  • lemon wedge, for serving
  • spice grinder, or mortar and pestle
  • potato masher
  1. Make the pav bhaji masala: Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, fennel seeds, and cardamom pods to a medium skillet. Turn the heat to medium and toast the spices for 3–5 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Transfer the toasted spices to a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle to grind the spices. Transfer the masala to an airtight container. It will keep for up to 6 months in a cool, dark place.
  3. Make the pav bhaji: In a small bowl, mix together the ginger and garlic.
  4. In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine the potatoes, tomatoes, peas, the ginger-garlic paste, 1½ tablespoons pav bhaji masala, the turmeric, 1 tablespoon chile powder, ½ cup (120 ml) water, and 1 teaspoon salt and stir well. Add the paprika and cayenne and stir to combine. Turn the head to medium and cover the pot. Cook for 25–30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
  5. Uncover the pan and use a potato masher to mash the vegetables into a paste. The mixture will not be completely smooth, but all of the vegetables should be broken down as much as possible. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.
  6. Melt the butter in the same pot (no need to wipe out). Add the red onion, jalapeños, the tomato paste, cilantro, ½ tablespoon pav bhaji masala, remaining ½ tablespoon chile powder, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Cook for 5–8 minutes, until the onion is translucent and spices are fragrant.
  7. Return the potato mixture to the pot and stir well to combine. Continue mashing, adding the remaining ½ cup water, plus more as needed, until the mixture is thick, but pourable. Season with more salt to taste.
  8. Serve the pav bhaji with buttered, toasted buns, minced red onion, minced cilantro, lemon wedges, and more butter on top.
  9. Enjoy!
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