Masala Pav is an interesting twist provided to an equally popular street food dish from Mumbai-Pav Bhaji. Sharing same base as of Pav Bhaji, Masala Pav is made of mixture of vegetables, a unique spice blend made specially for these dishes-Pav Bhaji Masala , and a generous helping of butter.
Inventiveness is the perpetual mantra for success and not only does it holds true for a large scale enterprise but also for a small food stall vendor. In fact, inventiveness gets an all new meaning to itself on the streets. A walk down the crowded streets of a tier-1 city like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bangalore etc. could be an overwhelming experience for your senses. Presence of hundreds of street food vendors swarming on both sides of streets, each having something unique to offer, is a unique experience in itself.
While the story of invention of Pav Bhaji is a fascinating read and is known to many, not much is known about Masala Pav. When did this fascinating dish appeared for the first time on menu cards of Mumbai could be anybody’s guess. Masala Pav not only derives its success from its predecessor-Pav Bhaji but also borrows heavily from that successful recipe. Every time I speak of this gem of Mumbai’s street food I feel compelled to narrate the story of its creation.
Pav Bhaji is one of those dishes that bears testimony to a Mumbaikar’s (Mumbai resident) spirt, the much talked about and praised-survival spirit. The towering sky scrapers, malls and residential towers that adorn the skies of Mumbai now, were missing in those days. We are talking about the city in the decade of 70s. The majority of Mumbaikar belonged to economically lower rungs of society whose fortunes were interweaved with that of Mumbai’s textile mills. The bread earners for most families were employed in one of the hundreds of mills that existed in city and seemed indispensable in that era. The onset of the following decade was witness to the fall of Mumbai’s mill culture and disrupted millions of lives, but let me not digress from the post.
I brought up mills and mill-workers in this blog post for the sake of context and to explain how mill-workers were an inseparable part of Mumbai’s culture-where Pav Bhaji was born. The tale of its birth goes like this. Mill Workers had their lunch breaks which were too short for a full meal and they preferred something lighter that would keep them full and not let them doze off. Some enterprising street food vendor, having figured out this dilemma came up with this wonderful recipe. He mashed most of the vegetables that were on his menu and prepared a flavorful Bhaji serving it with the well-known Pav. The dish that was restricted to the streets later proliferated and became available in high end restaurants and Udupi hotels too. The story of its invention is a hard fact or an apocryphal is anybody’s guess. For me this could be a folklore like so many others that are told and retold in foodie community and it makes for an interesting read.
As I stated earlier, while much is known of Pav Bhaji’s invention, very little is known of Masala Pav. I believe, Masala Pav bears testimony to inventiveness and creativity of a street foodwala. An enterprising food stall vendor selling Pav Bhaji on its stall, facing intense competition from some of his peers, decided to go innovation route. Revamping the tried and tested formula of Pav Bhaji, they would have decided to bring the humble companion- Pav more into limelight. This dish was designed to be centered around Pav with masala or Bhaji playing an equally critical role and thus was born a tantalizing dish- Masala Pav.
If you have not known about Masala Pav so far and Pav Bhaji is the only dish that you are aware of being prepared on Tawa, this post will introduce you to an equally delicious dish. In fact, as I brought up Tawa in our discussion, how can I miss Tawa Pulao. Check out the recipe of Tawa Pulao and Pav Bhaji.
- 6 Pav/Soft Dinner Rolls
- 2 Large (180gms) Onions- finely chopped
- 4 Medium (275gms) Tomatoes- finely chopped
- 1 Large (75gms) Capsicum-finely chopped
- 1 Medium (90gms) Potato- Boiled and peeled
- 1.5 inches Ginger root
- 8-10 Cloves of Garlic
- 3-4 Green Chilies
- ¼th Cup Fresh Coriander Leaves-finely chopped
- ¼th-tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1-tbsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- 1½-tbsp Pav Bhaji Masala
- 2 Cubes of Butter
- 1 Cube of Cheese
- Cooking Oil
- For making Masala Pav, I am using a large heavy bottomed Iron Tawa. You can even use a non-stick pan for making Masala. Add 2-tbsp Cooking Oil on this Tawa.
- As Oil becomes hot, add 1-tbsp butter. Allow it to melt. Add finely chopped Onions. Fry Onions on medium heat until it becomes soft. Cook Onions for 4-5 mins.
- Now, add Ginger-Garlic-Green Chili Paste. We have made this paste with 1-tbsp water. Cook until we get rid of the raw flavour of Ginger-Garlic.
- After cooking for 2 mins, add Turmeric Powder. Add finely chopped Capsicum and 1-2 tbsp water. Cook until it becomes soft.
- Capsicum becomes soft in 3 mins on medium heat. Now, add finely chopped Tomatoes. Add some Salt to hasten the softening process.
- Tomatoes become softer in 10 mins. Now, add Red Chili Powder, Pav Bhaji Masala Powder, chopped Coriander, 1-tbsp butter and some Salt. Bhunao/Cook the Masala. Add 1-2 tbsp water during the Bhunao process.
- Cook Masala for 8-10 mins. Now, we will add mashed Potatoes. Addition of Potatoes is an optional step. Mashed Potatoes impart a body and creaminess to the Masala paste. Mix well.
- Now, add grated Cheese for more yumminess and some more creaminess. Add ¼th Cup Water to the Masala and mix well.
- Masala is not too thin and not too thick. This is the right consistency for the Masala. Bring masala to the side of the tawa. Garnish with coriander leaves.
- Add some butter in the centre of Tawa. Put some Masala. Roast the Pav on this Tawa. Smear this Pav with butter and cooked veggie/masala
- Masala Pav is ready to be served. Remove from Pan. Similarly, make remaining Masala Pav.
Click to watch recipe video