Pav Bhaji – Mumbai Street Food – Easy InstantPot Recipe

Pav Bhaji is super popular Indian street food recipe. Originated by street food vendors of Mumbai, pav bhaji is a hearty vegetarian stew served with buttery crispy breads. Truly comfort food classic, it’s an iconic fast food recipe craved and devoured by millions on daily basis. 

Mumbai pav bhaji is a spicy preparation mixed vegetables, cooked and mashed along with fresh tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and masala. You serve it with bunch of garnishes along with warm bread crisp fried in butter.. it’s heavenly.

Anytime is good time to devour this spicy,  hearty culinary delight. This recipe is wholesome,  hearty and filling. You see it served ranging from breakfast,  brunch to lunch, snack or dinner.

My kids love these spicy sliders that we call Indian Sloppy Joes. This Vegetarian recipe is family favorite, crowd pleaser,  party friendly.

Literally meaning of paav bhaji is bread and vegetables. Paav is dinner roll or butter buns ( popular in India ) and bhaji is a generic term used to describe vegetable preparation.

There are several variations options to customize this dish per your dietary preferences. Since Mumbai was previously Bombay, many people still fondly call it BOMBAY PAV BHAJI. You can omit onion, ginger & garlic paste to make it Jain Pav Bhaji. You can add lots of melted cheese to make it Cheesy Paav Bhaji. And if you don’t mash the vegetables to puree, it’s called Khada Paav Bhaji.

Since childhood, I have loved pav bhaji. It often used to be on our weekend brunch menu. My mom used to make it very lovingly since everyone in the family would be craving it.

Undoubtedly, we have special affinity for Indian street food. We love it, we crave it and we get nostalgic eating it. Whether it’s Ragda PattiesMisal Paav, Kutchi Dabeli or Veg Manchurian, there are drool worthy spicy – sweet memory attached to it.

Making paav bhaji seems like tedious,  time consuming process. However it doesn’t have to be. With few tricks and tips, you can whip up this delectable dish pretty easily and regularly.

Additionally,  Pav Bhaji can be a served as a complete meal. It’s full of vegetables. It’s wholesome and hearty. It can be a one pot meal even for busy weeknight.

WHY USE PRESSURE COOKER LIKE INSTANTPOT TO MAKE PAV BHAJI RECIPE

Making pav bhaji in InstantPot or pressure cooker is quick and easy. It saves time and efforts.

Traditionally, Bhaji is prepared as a two step process. The vegetables are chopped and boiled first. Then you would stir fry them in onion tomato masala on the big tawa ( frying pan ).

Using the pressure cooker, I eliminated pre boiling step. This method makes the pav bhaji recipe in easy one pot cooking.

A scoop of spicy bhaji made in Instantpot. This spicy mashed vegetables stew is popular Indian Street food recipe.

PAAV BHAJI RECIPE INGREDIENTS

Pav – The soft dinner rolls are crisped on tawa ( flat griddle ) laced with butter. You can get specialty pav bhaji buns or laddi pav in Indian grocery stores. You can also use sliced bread, dinner rolls or hamburger buns.

Bhaji – The vegetable stew is made using  cooked and mashed potatoes, cauliflower, green peas, carrots, bell pepper (or capsicum). Some people also use beet root for red color. The mashed vegetables are cooked in onion tomato spice masala.

Aromatics and Spices – Generous use of ginger and garlic and red chili powder adds perfect zest and bold spicy flavors. I prefer to use store brought Pav bhaji masala. EVEREST brand is my favorite. Adding amazon link in case you want to purchase it. ( non sponsored)

Display of ingredients needed to make Mumbai street style delicious pav bhaji

PRO TIPS TO MAKE RESTAURANT QUALITY PAAV BHAJI 

Spend 3-5 minutes of sautéing the onion-tomato masala with all the spices. Sauté it till you sense the wafting aroma. This step ensures intense flavors.

If you sauté the masala well, then cooking the rest of the veggies doesn’t alter the taste much. Pre boiling isn’t necessary.

To save time and for convenience,  I often use frozen cauliflower,  peas and chopped bell peppers. Since everything is mashed anyways, you can’t tell the difference. I prefer to save efforts and time.

To make pav bhaji recipe vegan, use vegan butter or quality oil.

It’s very easy to sneak in some veggies into the pav bhaji. Especially for those picky eaters.

STORAGE TIPS

You can store prepared bhaji masala in refrigerator for 3-4 days. Nicely reheat in Microwave or steam it before serving. You can also make a big batch and freeze it for couple weeks. Serve the buttery rolls fresh.

A white dinner plate with garnished spicy bhaji and buttery dinner rolls served along with lemon wedges and cilatrol leaves. This lip smacking delicious meal is easy to prepare in Instantpot.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN MAKING INSTANTPOT PAV BHAJI

Turn InstantPot on SAUTE mode. Add butter and let it melt. ( or use oil to make it vegan) Add onions, garlic and ginger. Sprinkle some salt. Sauté well and cook until onions are slightly brown.

Add red chili powder, and pav bhaji masala and sauté till fragrant. Add tomatoes, and cook until mushy. ( about 3 minutes) Add 1.5 cup water. And DEGLAZE the pot by scraping the bottom with spatula.

Add in all the veggies. Add salt to taste. Stir well. Cancel Sauté mode. Press MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK mode and select 8 mins high. Once it’s done cooking, unplug the InstantPot. Do a natural pressure release NPR. Once the silver pin drops, open the lid.

Once the steam clears, using a masher , mash the vegetables well. It should be soft and smooth paste like consistency. If you notice it too watery, press the SAUTE mode again and let it cook for 3-4 more minutes. Bhaji will absorb water and thicken some as it cools down.

To serve – separately, on a tawa or griddle, melt some butter. Put the paav buns on the sizzling tawa and let them grill for couple minutes on both sides. Carefully remove them from pan.

Serve the prepared bhaji with chopped onions,  cilantro and lemon wedges. You can add a dollop of butter on top and let it melt some. Serve the buttered paav on the side.

Process step collage showing steps involved in making Instantpot Pav bhaji

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A white dinner plate with garnished spicy bhaji and buttery dinner rolls served along with lemon wedges and cilatrol leaves. This lip smacking delicious meal is easy to prepare in Instantpot.

Pav Bhaji - Mumbai Street Food - Easy InstantPot Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Iconic Mumbai street Pav Bhaji is an all vegetable stew with tangy, spicy, zesty twist to it. Served with buttery roll, you have heaven on the plate! This delicious recipe provides easy one pot recipe instructions for Instantpot and stovetop.

Ingredients

For Serving :

  • 1-2  tablespoon butter or oil
  • 12 Paav ( use Dinner rolls or hamburger buns if you don’t get Indian style laddi paav)

For Garnish :

  • 1 lemon or lime cut into quarters
  • butter 
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • cilantro leaves finely chopped

Instructions

INSTANTPOT INSTRUCTIONS :

Turn InstantPot on SAUTE mode. Add butter and let it melt. (Or use oil and let it warm up)

Add onions, garlic and ginger. Sprinkle some salt. Sauté well and cook until onions are slightly brown. Add red chili powder, and pav bhaji masala and sauté till fragrant.

Add tomatoes, and cook until mushy. ( about 3 minutes) Add 1.5 cup water. And DEGLAZE the pot by scraping the bottom with spatula. Add in all the veggies. Add salt to taste. Stir well. Cancel Sauté mode.

Press MANUAL or PRESSURE COOK mode and select 8 mins high. Once it's done cooking, unplug the InstantPot. Do a natural pressure release NPR. Once the silver pin drops, open the lid.

Once the steam clears, using a masher , mash the vegetables well. It should be soft and smooth paste like consistency.

If you notice it too watery, press the SAUTE mode again and let it cook for 3-4 more minutes. Bhaji will absorb water and thicken some as it cools down.

For serving : On a tawa or griddle, melt some butter. Put the paav buns on the sizzling tawa and let them grill for couple minutes on both sides.  Carefully remove them from pan.

Serve the prepared bhaji with chopped onions,  cilantro and lemon wedges.  You can add a dollop of butter on top and let it melt some. Serve the buttered paav on the side.

STOVE TOP INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat the oil or butter on stove top pressure cooker on medium heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Sprinkle some salt. Sauté well and cook until onions are slightly brown. Add red chili powder, and pav bhaji masala and sauté till fragrant.

Add tomatoes, and cook until mushy. ( about 3 minutes) Add 1.5 cup water. Add in all the veggies. Add salt to taste. Stir well. Close the lid . Let it come to pressure and cook for 2 whistles. Turn off the heat.

Once the pressure is down, open the lid. Once the steam clears, using a masher , mash the vegetables well. It should be soft and smooth paste like consistency. Your BHaji is ready. Serving instructions remain the same as above.

Notes

How to make Homemade Pav Bhaji Masala: I always have Everest pav bhaji masala in my pantry. It's my preferred pav bhaji masala brand. If you prefer to make your own pav bhaji masala,  combine 1 teaspoon chat masala,  1 tsp amchur (dry mango powder), 1 tsp coriander powder and 1 tsp garam masala. Mix well and use it instead. 

Spend 3-5 minutes of sauteing the onion-tomato masala with all the spices. Saute it till you sense the wafting aroma.  This step ensures intense flavors.

If you saute the masala well, then cooking the rest of the veggies doesn't alter the taste much.  Pre boiling isn't necessary.

To save time and for convenience,  I often use frozen cauliflower,  peas and chopped bell peppers.  Since everything is mashed anyways, you can't tell the difference.  I prefer to save efforts and time.

To make this preparation vegan, use vegan butter or quality oil.

It's very easy to sneak in some veggies into the pav bhaji. Especially for those picky eaters.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 456mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 5g

Nutritional values are provided as a courtesy and the values are approximate. The values will change depending on the exact ingredients, measurements and brands used. As always, for specific health issues and dietary requirements please consult medical professional.

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