Pav bhajhi of vegetarian mince, fresh vegetables and home ground masala

20 Mar


Pav Bhajhi of vegetarian mince, fresh vegetables and home ground masala

I can be a messy eater and an accomplished one too. If you follow me on twitter, you will know there was much discussion about me packing away something over 30 pani puri’s, with the juices trickling down my hands and resting on my wrists and puffed rice escaping from my lips. I make no secrets about my gratification upon sucking up tomato-drenched spaghetti or the glee associated with scooping Khichdi up with spring onions and taking sloppy, chin-decorating gobfuls. I certainly will not eat my buttery paratha with a knife and fork and prefer to eat my curry and rice with my fingers. When I go to a pizzeria, I start off delicately eating the inner part of my pizza with a knife and fork but as the juicy vegetables fall away, I often resort to just picking it up and simply relishing it despite what anyone thinks. At our favourite Chinese restaurant, my fingers dip into the fillings for my pancakes almost as soon as they land on the table. My husband uses the tongs.

The husband arrived home after another international business trip and whist he received his warm welcome from my boy, including ‘where’s my aeroplane and my car from OS-tray-lee-ar, where is it daddy?’ daddy was bribed with, ‘there’s pav bhaji in the kitchen for you daddy, your favourite, its delicious where’s my aeroplane, where is it’.

I had been listening to people talk of keema (mince meat) pav (bread, like baps) this week and decided to make the popular, vegetarian Indian street food of spiced vegetables like potatoes, peas, cauliflower and aubergines lightly mashed and eaten on bread buns. It’s a popular and powerfully spiced dish that is available in Indian shaks as well as restaurants. It is best a generous dollop butter and without concerns of being dainty when eating it, I have licked my fingers many times today. Anyway, so I thought, what the heck…let’s combine vegetarian mince with pav bhaji. And what do you know…it works. I highly recommend it and so does my boy who is very hard to please. If you follow my posts you will know how hard I find it to feed my boy, so seeing him willingly eat this dish which includes vegetables and protein and some carbs had been so fulfilling.

pau bhajhi 1a

I have made my own masala mix for this aromatic dish with a kick, but you could buy shop bought pav bhaji masala. I have to say that this is one of my best mixes yet so I would encourage you to take a few minutes out to make it.

Ingredients to serve 4-6

Half a head of cauliflower, cut into florets

200ml water

One medium aubergine, cut into cubes

100g frozen peas, thawed

3 medium sized potatoes cut into large cubes

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

A 5cm piece of ginger, minced

3 tbsp. vegetable oil or butter

One large onion, diced

Salt to taste

½ tsp. ground turmeric

½ can of chopped tomatoes

A squeeze of lemon

240g vegetarian mince, like Quorn

For the masala

1 tbsp. amchur powder (dried mango powder)

¾ tbsp. fennel seeds

2 tbsp. cumin seeds

The seeds of 4 cardamom pods

2 tbsp. peppercorns

1 stick of cinnamon

6 cloves

2 star anise

1 tbsp. coriander seeds

2-3 tsp. dried chilli flakes

1 tsp. chaat masala

A handful of coriander to garnish


  1. On a hot non-stick pan heat the whole spices for a minute but don’t let them brown. Add the amnchur powder to release the aroma and then turn off the heat after a few seconds.
  2. Grind the spices together and then add the chaat masala.
  3. Boil the potatoes and aubergines for 5-7 minutes and then add the cauliflower and boil for a further 7 minutes before draining the water and lightly mashing it so that there are some whole pieces and some mash.
  4. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and then add the turmeric, onion, salt and sauté until the onions start to soften before mixing in the garlic and ginger. Sauté for a further minute then add the pav bhajhi masala and cook for under a minute but down let the spices brown or burn otherwise they will become bitter.
  5. Add the mince and then the water and tomatoes and simmer on a medium flame for 8minutes before adding the vegetables and cooking for a further 5 minutes on a low flame, so that the spices infuse.
  6. Serve on hot, toasted and buttered bread buns with a sprinkling of onions and coriander.



14 Responses to “Pav bhajhi of vegetarian mince, fresh vegetables and home ground masala”

  1. Joanne March 20, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    This is such a fun handheld food! Almost like tacos, but with an Indian twist.

    • Deena Kakaya March 20, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

      Yeah actually Joanne, it is! I’m quite proud of my masala mix too xx

  2. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy March 20, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    This sounds delicious. I am going to make this soon, but use lentils instead of Quorn.

    • Deena Kakaya March 20, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

      That’s a great idea Dannii, might try that myself! Thanks for taking the time to comment x

  3. Anita Menon March 21, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    I LoOOOOOve pau bhaji. Its my absolute favourite thing to eat. The masala you made sounds fragrant and wonderful. i buy the Everest pau bhaji masala from super markets but its never as good as the Everest in India. The export versions are always less spicy compared to their Indian counterparts.

    • Deena Kakaya March 21, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      I love it too Anita! But have you ever tried it with vegetarian mince in this way? I’ve tired Everest too, but home ground has its own magic doesn’t it xx

  4. Ren Behan March 21, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    A lovely post and recipe, have you been to the Indian Street Food Kitchen restaurant in St Albans? It’s lovely and very authentic. I’d love to try this recipe at home.

    • Deena Kakaya March 21, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

      Hi Ren, it’s great to hear from you! I haven’t been to the Indian street food kitchen in st.albans but given that it’s down the road and that I love Indian street food I will definitely go, thank you for telling me about it. Maybe we could go together some time.

      Oh I’m actually really leased with this masala I made, one of my best yet for pav Bhajhi. I hope you’ll enjoy it xx

  5. Poppy March 24, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    Looks stunning and sounds so delicious! Will try this with vegan soya mince xx

    • Deena Kakaya March 24, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

      Thanks Poppy! I used Quorn mince and would love to know what you use and how it tastes xx

      • Poppy March 24, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

        I will use reconstituted dried soya mince (Quorn has egg in). There are some frozen vegan mince varieties but I find the dried stuff much better value! 🙂 x

        • Deena Kakaya March 24, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

          I like this idea, think they sell something like this in the South Indian shop near me x

          • Poppy March 24, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

            I hope you manage to find some Deena, it’s a great store cupboard ingredient and once you add boiling water, it’s very similar to quorn mince and soaks up flavours really well xx

  6. LostandFound December 27, 2014 at 5:37 am #

    What is the name of food it’s something like chinese pau but it’s an Indian food that made of Rice flour and Mintch beef/chicken then have to steams till cooked.

Let me know what you think about this recipe

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