This Instant Pot Pav Bhaji recipe is a very popular Indian street food that originated in Mumbai. Think of it as the vegetarian version of Sloppy Joes! A medley of seasonal vegetables is cooked with aromatic spices and hand-mashed into a smooth, buttery consistency – called the Bhaji. This Bhaji is then topped with generous amounts of butter, chopped onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lime, and served alongside some pan fried buns – called the Pav.
Although traditionally Pav Bhaji is made with copious amounts of butter and is considered a fairly indulgent treat, you can easily turn this dish vegan by using any kind of light cooking oil. Cutting down on the amount of fat will also make this a very nutritious, well-balanced meal.
This recipe of mine is super simple and using the Instant Pot makes it super quick and hands-free as well. It’s the perfect recipe for a busy weeknight or a weekend brunch. Need to feed a crowd? It works great for that too!
What vegetables do I use?
Traditionally, the Bhaji is made using mostly potatoes, carrots, green peas and tomatoes which are usually pantry staples in most kitchens. However, you can also add in any seasonal veggies you have to bump up the flavour and nutritional value of this dish. Some great examples of veggies that you can also add to this recipe include cauliflower, zucchini, peppers, beets and sweet potatoes. Changing up the blend of vegetables you use will slightly alter the flavour every time (in a good way, of course!), which in turn also makes this a great recipe to use up all the little bits and bobs left in the fridge at the end of the week.
What kind of bread do I use?
I love using soft, mini dinner rolls for my Pav Bhaji that are easily available in the grocery stores around where I live. Slider buns, Hawaiian rolls and soft burger buns work great as well.
What is Pav Bhaji Masala?
Pav Bhaji Masala is a spice blend that is traditionally used to make the Bhaji – which is the mashed mix vegetable curry. This spice blend usually consists of coriander, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, peppercorns and cardamom, to name a few. Because it requires a ton of different spices in small varying amounts to get the right flavour, I suggest buying the readymade spice blend so that your recipe comes out tasting great every time! Some of my favourite brands of Pav Bhaji Masala include Everest, MDH and Badshah – all readily available online or any Indian grocery store.
How do I Serve Pav Bhaji?
The best way to serve Pav Bhaji is to add a dollop of butter (totally optional), a generous sprinkling of chopped raw onions and cilantro, and a squeeze of lime over the Bhaji. Then pair this with buttered dinner rolls slightly warmed on a pan so that the outside is a bit crisp along the edges, while the inside stays soft.
Instant Pot Pav Bhaji (Vegan Indian-style Sloppy Joes)
For the Bhaji
- 3 tbsp light cooking oil
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 medium-sized onion finely chopped
- 1 medium-sized green bell pepper finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp pav bhaji masala
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp amchoor powder
- 2 large tomatoes finely chopped
- 4 medium-sized potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 medium-sized carrots peeled and cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 cup water
- salt to taste
- 12 mini dinner rolls or slider buns
- 1 tbsp light cooking oil
- 1 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1-2 limes cut into wedges
- Set the pressure cooker to Saute mode and heat oil for a few seconds. Once the oil is warm, add in the cumin seeds.
- As soon as the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add in the ginger, garlic, chopped onion and green pepper, and fry for a few minutes till begin to lightly brown along the edges.
- Add in the tomato paste and spices, and fry for a few seconds to mix everything well.
- Add in chopped tomatoes, give it a food mix and let it cook for a few minutes till the tomatoes start to pulp and blend with the spice mixture. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from getting burnt.
- Mix in the potatoes, carrots, peas and corn, and add in the water. Give it another mix and close the lid of the pressure cooker. Set it to the Pressure cooking mode with the timer set to 5 minutes.
- Once the time is done, allow the pressure to release naturally. Be careful while opening the lid, and give it a good stir. Using a potato masher, carefully mash the curry into a smooth consistency. You can add in more hot water depending on how thick you like your Bhaji. Adjust the seasoning and add in salt if needed.
- Lightly oil both sides of the buns and warm them up on a pan until the edges start to crisp.
- Garnish the Bhaji with chopped onions, fresh cilantro and lime wedges and serve warm.
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