Vegetable bhaji

Marut Sikha's version of the rich and butery Pao Bhaji, the most popular of the many street foods on offer in Mumbai
By Gary Rhodes
Vegetable bhaji
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the bhaji sauce

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 400 g tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the bhaji

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 600 g potatoes, cooked, peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrot, blanched and finely diced
  • 150 g button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 cm ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp black salt, powder

To serve

  • 50 g butter
  • pao bread rolls


1. For the bhaji sauce: heat the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and just allow it to soften before adding the onion. Gently fry until it turns translucent, without colouring. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes until they start to reduce to a pulp.

2. Add the remaining ingredients, stir for a few minutes then remove from the heat. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

3. For the bhaji: heat half the butter in a frying pan. Add the potatoes, carrots and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, moving them around the pan so that the potatoes begin to break down. Remove for the heat.

4. In another large saucepan, heat the remaining butter over a low heat. Add the blended bhaji sauce and stir in the potato mixture. Add the green chilli, ginger, half the coriander, the garam masala and the black salt. Stir in a little water to loosen the mixture, then simmer gently for 30 minutes. In Indian street stalls it is usually left to simmer for 3-4 hours.

5. To serve: split the pao bread rolls in half and fry the centers in a knob of butter until crisp and golden. Serve with the bhaji.

About Marut Sikka
Marut Sikka is a restaurateur and food writer whose interest lies in the finer nuances of Indian food. Marut has launched 27 Indian restaurants in his career, each with a unique focus. He is the author of Indian Flavours, Kama Bhog - Foods of Love, and is soon to release "A Culinary Journey through India's Seasons".

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