Chowing down street food is one of my favourite things to do when I am home for a holiday, in India. It’s a rather special experience to see the chaatwala (the snack/ chaat vendor) put together your chaat of choice, right in front of your eyes. It is amazing to see them work with such great speed and efficiency yet the waiting for the chaat to be served would seem like forever! I have very little patience (and self-control) when it comes to chaat. When it is finally served, every morsel would be worth that teeny bit of waiting! It’s like a party in your mouth.
It is best experienced than explained.
Now coming back to our recipe here. Sorry if I snatched you away from any chaat-related dreams but I promise you this one will be a goodie!
Among the several street food specialties that’s served across India, pav bhaaji is one that is loved and thoroughly enjoyed. If you’re not familiar with the dish, it is a spicy potato-based curry that is mopped up with butter toasted pav/pao/buns. Masala pav is the same but different. Let us call her the underrated sister of pav bhaaji, shall we?
Masala pav is essentially an easier way to consume pav bhaaji. Instead of scooping out the bhaaji on the side, it is smeared on the pav and is eaten like a burger. It is prepared with or without potatoes. I prefer it without the potato, which makes it absolutely easy to whip up for a quick-fix snack or breakfast even.
This is my version of the famous street food specialty.
- Bun/ pav/ dinner rolls – 6
- Onion – 1 finely chopped
- Red chilli paste – 2 tspns
- Garlic paste – 1 tspn
- Capsicum – 1 finely chopped
- Tomato – 1 finely chopped
- Frozen Peas – 1/2 cup
- Butter – 1 ½ tblspns + 1 tblspn to toast the buns
- Pav bhaji masala – 2 tspns (heaped)
- Kashmiri chilli powder (optional) – 1 tspn
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tspn
- Salt – To taste
- Coriander leaves – To garnish
- Lemon – 1
- Reserve some chopped onions to garnish the masala pav before serving.
- Slit the buns into halves.
- Heat butter in a pan on medium-low.
- Add the chilli paste and keep pressing it into the butter.
- After the fat separates, add the garlic paste, mix it with the chilli paste and cook for 1 minute or till the raw smell of garlic leaves.
- Turn the heat to high, add the onions and cook them till the onions turn pink.
- Now, add the capsicum and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Make sure the capsicum does not become too soft in the process.
- Add the tomatoes and give it a stir.
- Mash the mixture gently until it becomes mushy.
- Combine the mixture with the dry spices and salt and continue mashing.
- Do so till the tomatoes are cooked completely.
- Add the peas and mix well to combine all the ingredients.
- Once the peas are cooked, turn off the stove.
- Set aside the masala. Optionally, top it with a bit of butter.
- Heat a pan, add the butter.
- Sprinkle some pav bhaaji masala.
- Toast the buns until crisp and golden. Optionally, toast the outsides of the bun if you like.
- To assemble the masala pav, smear a heaped teaspoon of the masala on each side of the toasted buns.
- Sprinkle some chopped onions and serve it with lemon wedges.
- Enjoy it hot with a cup of ginger chai!
Serving suggestions: You could serve this as an open bun or fold the slit buns and eat it like you would a burger or vada pav.
- I sometimes cheat and use some reserved masala when I make Tava Pulao for this quick-fix snack or breakfast.
- Butter is what makes anything pav bhaji flavoured amazing. Ghee may be okay but try and avoid using vegetable or nut oils.
- Adjust spice levels to suit your preference.