Pav Bhaji Recipe

By | January 21, 2016

I’m trying to cross off Bucket List Item #3 – Learn to Cook Like Ma. Flavorful, authentic vegetarian Indian food made from scratch. What’s not to love?

Today’s dish is actually one of my aunt’s specialty dishes. But she made it frequently for big family gatherings, so it still screams home to me. Plus, it has a fun, superhero name. We eat Pav (pronounced Pow!) Bhaji with toasted soft bread rolls, finely diced sweet onion and cilantro as a garnish. you have a pressure cooker, you will find this dish much easier to make. I’ve found that pressure cookers can vary greatly from model to model, so make sure to understand how yours works and don’t just blindly follow my directions below. Sorry if that’s common sense and not something I need to warn you about.


  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 3-4 large tomatoes
  • 4 cups of frozen mixed vegetables. (Normally a mixture of carrots, corns, peas and green beans)
  • 1/2 of a large onion
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Soft bread rolls


  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp pav bhaji masala
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp chili powder


  1. Get your sous chef to dice the onion, the cauliflower, the potatoes and the tomatoes roughly.
  2. In a pressure cooker add the oil, the onion, the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds.
  3. Let cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add in the remaining diced vegetables from step 1 and the frozen vegetables.
  5. Add in the salt and 2 (of the 3) tsp of pav bhaji masala.
  6. Stir well.
  7. Add in 2/3 of a cup of water.
  8. Close up the pressure cooker and let cook until the steam beckons you with its whistle.
  9. Shut off the heat.
  10. When the pressure is relieved from the cooker, you should then be able to open the cover.
  11. Do NOT force the pressure cooker to open if it’s still pressurized. Also, pressure cookers are different, so yours might not whistle. Read the instructions that came with it.IMG_20151208_132510
  12. Mash the mixture well. My aunt uses a masher. I just looked on Amazon and it’s technically called a “potato masher”, but I’m pretty sure it’s legal to use it on all the vegetables.
  13. Put the heat on low.
  14. Finely dice the green bell pepper.
  15. Add the diced peppers to the pot. It will give the dish a bit of crunch.
  16. Add in the final tsp of the pav bhaji masala and all the brown sugar.
  17. Add in the chili powder and the lime juice.
  18. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
  19. Toast the soft bread rolls.
  20. Enjoy with approximately eight of your family members.

This is a really cruddy picture. You need a lot more pav bhaji for that amount of bread.

Acceptable Deviations

There are probably too many acceptable deviations to count, but here are some of the obvious ones.

  1. You can add cilantro and sweet onions as a garnish.
  2. You can use any type of bread you’d like.
  3. I put fresh lime on all Indian food.
  4. You can use any frozen vegetable mixture you want.
  5. You can ditch the cauliflower.

Price: $11.09

This recipe makes a giant batch that will serve 8 people. It contains a ton of ingredients, so the costs do add up, but if you tailor the recipe to include vegetables that are on sale, you can probably cut this cost down considerably.

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower – $1.25
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes – $0.45
  • 1 bell pepper – $0.30
  • 3-4 large tomatoes – $2.00
  • 4 cups of frozen mixed vegetables – $2.00
  • 1/2 of a large onion – $0.15
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil – $0.45
  • 1 tbsp lime juice – $0.10
  • Soft bread rolls (12 pack) – $4.10
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds – $0.02
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds – $0.02
  • 3 tsp pav bhaji masala – $0.19
  • 3 tsp salt – $0.01
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar – $0.03
  • 2 tsp chili powder – $0.02

10 thoughts on “Pav Bhaji Recipe

  1. Cleona

    Great recipe. Love pav bhaji too, so healthy and tasty – it really is the Indian gift to the world to make vegetarian food exciting! I also like the way you wrote this…very engaging.

  2. Chirag The Thrifty

    This takes me back to my mom’s Pav Bhaji.

    She would pretty much follow this same method, but instead of a slow cooker, she would just use a large pot. The mashing would happen completely on the side. Basically she’d steam the cauliflower and bake the potatoes until the skin just peels off with your fingers. Then I would gather it all in a large steel dish and smash them with a potato masher (yeah I would actually love doing this). This and the fact that she did it on a large pot instead of a slow cooker, are the only major deviations from your recipe. Great share! Love the website!

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Yes, my aunt said she occasionally makes it in a large pot, but it just takes much longer that way. 🙂

  3. Bebe

    Love these posts. I love Indian food but when I try and make it at home it always seems to be missing something and when I go out for Indian food it’s never budget friendly. Thanks for sharing your family recipes.

  4. Karl

    WOW- really great- and so healthy. Thanks for sharing. I want to try making it.

  5. Jacquie

    What keep this dish from being vegan? I am familiar with most ingredients listed. Not being vegan is NOT a deal-breaker but I am curious if it can be easily modified in some way.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      It can most definitely be vegan. Make sure the bread rolls you pick out don’t have any eggs or dairy and toast it with olive oil and not butter.

  6. Tom

    I can’t wait to try this! I just might be able to make this. The only problem is that cauliflower is very pricey these days. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Check out the frozen section for the cauliflower. In the grocery store in the midwest when I looked at these prices, the frozen cauliflower was surprisingly cheap. You can also cut out the cauliflower if you can’t find a reasonably priced source.

  7. EL @ MoneyWatch101

    IF you use sliced bread you can get the cost down by 2 dollars, so the total will be 9 bucks. Great dish and all good ingredients. Thanks for sharing.


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