Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Excellent Lunch this week: Pav Bhaji

The best way to describe pav bhaji is "Indian-spicy vegetarian sloppy joes."  It's not eaten in sandwich form, though -- instead the mashed vegetables are scooped up with toasted pieces of bread. 

We make a ton of pav bhaji at a time and then freeze it in smaller containers.  It's just as good after defrosting, since it's basically stew.  Here's how it's done:
  1. Steam all these vegetables until they're mushy enough to mash with a potato masher:
    3-4 potatoes, peeled & chunked
    1 eggplant, peeled & chunked
    1 cauliflower, chunked
    4 large carrots, chunked
    3 green peppers, chunked
  2. In your largest pot, heat about 2 teaspoons each of mustard seeds and cumin seeds in about a stick of melted butter until they start to sizzle and pop.
  3. Add a chopped onion and 5ish cloves of garlic.
  4. When they're translucent, add 2-3 chopped tomatoes.
  5. Mash all the other vegetables that you've steamed, and add them to the butter with the onions and tomatoes.  If you don't have a bowl big enough to mash them in, you can add them to the pot and then mash them.  An immersion blender also works for this.
  6. Add a whole package of pav bhaji masala.  If you don't like spicy food, you can add the masala a little at a time until you get the spice level right.
  7. Add salt to taste, more butter if you like, and ground chiles & black pepper to get the heat where you like it.  Add a little lemon juice here or save it for serving time, either way.
  8. Serve with buttered toasted buns, chopped raw onions, cilantro, and lemon wedges.
I should note that these vegetables and quantities are pretty rough.  If you've got extra carrots or not enough green peppers, don't fret.   You can add pav bhaji masala to a wide variety of vegetables with excellent results.  Once it's all mashed, no one will be able to tell you added a turnip.

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