I’ll start of by saying that I do not want to do an injustice to Indian Street food. However, whenever we visited India , many times over a period of 4 years ( my eldest grand daughter was born in Delhi) we were constantly warned ‘ Not to Eat Street Food’. My #1 daughter ventured forth just the once ( she is a travel journalist and as such thought she should) and ended up in hospital with severe dehydration from gastroenteritis . What had she eaten? A simple baked sweet potato with lime squeezed over. However, the standard of cleanliness leaves much to be desired, for the street dwellers there is no such luxury as somewhere to wash their hands, have a bath or even go to the loo. Hence why we were told, not to eat the street food.
However there have been numerous recipes handed down over the years, many of which obviously stem from Indian Street Food or home cooking.
One such dish is PAU BHAJI.
Pav bhaji is a a fast food dish from India consisting of a thick vegetable curry (bhaji) served with a soft bread roll (pav). Its origins are in the state of Mahrashtra, which is home to Mumbai.
For me it is the equivalent of my Refrigerator Soup, as it uses up all sorts of odds and ends from the refrigerator. I decided today that I would have a little sort out of the refrigerator and this is what I had, which needed using. 2 soft Parsnips, 2 wilted red peppers, 2 soft sweet potatoes, a large handful of green beans and then from the freezer some peas and half a packet of broad beans. Along with onions, garlic and ginger.
This was absolutely Perfect. Why? Simply because generally speaking the quality of produce is not high in India, #1 daughter lived in what was considered an upmarket neighbourhood, her nearest shop was across a busy road to Honey Money Top. It equated not even to my local Indian Stores here in London. Given the vast size of India, the poor transportation, roads are terrible, trains , lots of them, overcrowded and always late. Refrigerated trucks, not so many, it is hardly surprising that but the time goods get to market they are not at their best !
I will start by saying that all quantities are whatever you have, more or less, no matter.
- 2-3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 or 3 white onions, sliced and chopped
- 400grm can of tomatoes ( or fresh)
- 1/4 tube tomato paste
- 2tsp each of the following, ground cumin, turmeric, Garam masala
- I also added some crushed chilli flakes and some crushed Kashmiri chillis for their wonderful colour.
- Some salt
- 100 grms butter ( or more to taste
- Some cooking oil
- Any of the following vegetables
- Cauliflower cut into florets
- Green, red or yellow peppers, chopped,
- Sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
- Parsnips, peeled and chopped
- Pumpkin or other squashes
- Beans, peas and carrots
Put all of the vegetables from the second list into a saucepan along with water or stock to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until really soft. Using a blender ( here I use a stick blender rather than a food processor, just to save on washing up) mush all the vegetables to a pulp.
The potatoes and sweet potatoes along with the onions, sauté with some oil until soft. I usually precook them for speed in the Microwave for about 5 minutes, and then sauté them. Add all of the spices along with the tomatoes and the tomato paste. cook for another 5-10 minutes
Then mix all of the above together to make a wonderful mushy vegetable mess! Normally it would be served as street food with a soft bread roll, but we have it alongside, some grilled chicken or fish.