Tava Idlies (Pav bhaji-flavoured idlies)

When the South Indian favourite idlies and Mumbai’s famous pav bhaji meet, you get tava idlies.

The star of the dish – the humble idlies are quite the powerhouse hiding inside a very soft and spongy exterior.

It is low in fat, easy to digest and comes loaded with iron B vitamins and other micronutrients, thanks to the lentils that go into preparing it.

Since these spongy delights are steamed, makes it that much more healthy to consume.

Besides being nutritious, it renders a bland taste, which makes it perfect to pair with a lot of curries, chutneys, sambhars and so. It is the versatility of the idlies that make it a perfect for this dish.

Now coming to pav bhaaji…where do I begin?

Scrumptious pav bhaaji is a meal in itself with carbs, good fats and nutrition from vegetables. The only disappointing aspect about it is the fact that it quite carb-heavy and requires use of a decent amount of butter to add to the deliciousness.

Don’t you worry, I’ve got you covered. You can now enjoy the flavours of pav bhaaji without beating yourself up with guilt. Idly makes a substantial substitute for the potatoes & pav bun. As an added bonus, it tastes amazing!

Here’s presenting to you tava idlies to take your idly game to another level!

Serves: 2


  • Mini Idlies – 20
  • Onion – 1, finely chopped, reserve about 2 tblspns to garnish
  • Tomato – 2 finely chopped
  • Capsicum – ½, cut into small dices
  • Garlic – 6 to 8 cloves
  • Dry red chilli (mild) – 4
  • Pav bhaji masala – 1 ½ heaped tspns
  • Chilli powder – 1 tspn
  • Coriander leaves – 1 tablespoon, chopped
  • Butter (optional) – 1 tspn + a bit more to serve
  • Oil – 2 tspns
  • Salt – As desired



  1. Soak dried red chillies and garlic cloves in warm water till the chillies are soft.
  2. Grind the soaked garlic and chillies to a smooth paste.


  1. Heat oil and butter in a pan.
  2. Add the ground garlic and chilli paste, sauté until the raw garlic smell is gone.
  3. Add the onion and allow it to cook and become soft.
  4. Toss in the chopped onions to the cooked onion mixture. With the back of the ladle mash the tomatoes so it becomes mushy.
  5. At this stage, add the spice powders and salt.
  6. Mix well to combine the vegetables with the spice powders and salt.
  7. If the mixture is too dry, add a few spoons of water. Ensure you do not add too much.
  8. Toss in the capsicum and allow it cook with the remaining masala for another 5 minutes or till the capsicum is cooked enough but still has that bit of a crunch.
  9. Finally, add the idlies and mix them gently with the vegetable mixture.
  10. Coat all the idlies well. Allow it to combine on medium flame for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  11. Once done, sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves.
  12. Serve hot and sprinkle some of the reserved chopped onion.

1. I have used mini idlies as they are bite-sized and convenient to mix and eat.
2. Replace mini idlies with quartered regular idlies
3. Adjust spice levels to suit your tolerance levels.
4. I’ve use a mild chilli variety (Kashmiri chillies) for colour and not so much for the heat as pav bhaji masala and chilli powder take care of that.
5. You could sprinkle cheese on top before serving for a variation.
6. A squeeze of lime or lemon adds a new tangy dimension to the dish.
7. To add texture, you could include green peas or other veggies of your choice.

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