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Its the Magic in the Masala ..

Since 1850's when Pao bhaji or 'bread with spicy and very tempting potato and mixed vegtable in tomato gravy 'made its way as a lunch dish for the Mumbai mill workers , it has been the eternal favourite of many ...the famous street food of Mumbai has made its way into many households , all over India , and this is one food that can be eaten at any time of the day.

Usually eaten with a Pao or a white soft bun doused in tons of butter , served with onions and lemon , we felt like having this for breakfast ...But with freshly baked whole grain bread . Some state, that the Pao or Pav got its name from the Portuguese who had a brief stint in Mumbai (then Bombay ) before it was gifted to the English as part of the dowry for Catherine of Braganza’s marriage to Charles II.. (Bread is Pão in Portuguese )

During these days, one may not be able to get masala fast enough and I had run out of Pao Bhaji masala so I decided to make it from scratch . The dish is simple its the magic in the masala that transforms the Bhaji as we relish it on the street. I have made the masala a bit mellow with less chillies. You may increase the proportion if you like it hot. Usually made with many vegetables but I opted for potato and peas.

Masala for the Pao Bhaji


1/4 cup cumin seeds

2 tblsp fennel seeds

2 tblsp coriander seeds

1 tblsp cloves

1 tblspn mace powder

5 cinnamon sticks

2-3 red chillies

1 tblspn Dry Mango powder or amchur

1 tblspn Dry ginger powder , saunth

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp black salt or rock salt

Dry Roast all these for a few minutes . Cool and grind . Keep in an airtight container.

The Bhaji

2 medium sized potatoes, boiled and mashed into chunks

1 medium sized red onion , finely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup tomato puree, organic

1/2 cup peas

1 1/2 tblspn Bhaji Masala , homemade


2 tsp Butter

1 tblsp oil

2 tsp lemon juice

a fistful of coriander leaves , chopped

To prepare

1.Heat butter or oil in a pan , add cumin seeds and let them splutter.

2. Add garlic and saute for a minute. Then add onions and saute till they turn translucent .

3. Add the tomato puree , with the masala and let it cook for 3-4 minutes. If you have to dilute it a bit with water do so at this stage.

4. Add the mashed potato and peas and cook till you see the butte or oil on the sides of the pan

5. Garnish with coriander leaves and lemon juice . and a dollop of butter..Enjoy with freshly baked bread.

ps. you may add any vegetables you like to make a meal like carrots , cauliflower or beans

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