Think of it as the Indian version of sloppy joes. Pav Bhaji, the wonderful street food of Mumbai, traditionally consists of a potato and vegetable curry (or bhaji) served on a bun (or pav). I’ve never had the pleasure of sampling Pav Bhaji in Mumbai, but I did cook up my own version last year, and it was immediately one of my favorite foods.
I got a craving for pav bhaji last week, but there was a little problem: I’ve been limiting my servings of starchy vegetables lately, and if I wanted to stick to my diet, I could either have the bread or the potatoes but not both. So I decided to do a little revamp of the recipe and substitute quick-cooking moong dal for the potatoes. I have to say that it was a huge success. I think I’ll be making dal bhaji from now on!
I also strayed from tradition in my choice of bread. My husband and I ate this hot off the stove packed in whole wheat pita pockets for dinner. The next day, we ate the leftovers cold, scooped up with triangles of pita bread; hot or cold, it makes a great dip for pitas or crackers. Serve it at your next party and it may be the most colorful dip your guests have ever seen, with its flecks of green and orange and red vegetables. And with all those vegetables and its 14 grams of fiber per serving, it will definitely be the healthiest!
- 1 cup masoor dal , moong dal or red lentils
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup each of each of these vegetables, finely diced: green beans, carrots, zucchini, cabbage
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas
- 1 large onion chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon ginger , minced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 bell pepper , finely chopped
- 2-3 teaspoons pav bhaji masala (spice mix available at Indian markets) (use less for less spicy bhaji)
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne , or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3 roma tomatoes , finely chopped
- salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Put the dal and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the dal is softened, about 15 minutes. Add more water if necessary to prevent it from drying out.
Cook the green beans, carrots, zucchini, and cabbage in water until soft. (I did this in the pressure cooker, with 1/2 cup of water at high pressure for 5 minutes.) When they’re soft, add the peas and mash the vegetables well, in the liquid. Stir in the cooked dal.
Heat a good non-stick wok or large pot. Add the onions and cook, adding a little water as necessary, until they begin to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and bell peppers and cook for another 2 minutes.
Stir in the pav bhaji masala, red chili powder, turmeric, and salt. Add the tomatoes, and cook until they start to break down, about 5 minutes. Add the mashed vegetables and salt to taste. Cook on low for about 20 minutes. Add lemon juice and serve on toasted buns, with pita bread, or as a dip.
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