At the words "pav bhaji," the mouths of native Mumbaikars start to water for this decidedly local dish. Sometimes referred to as "pau" bhaji, the pav, or roll, get its decidedly un-Indian name from its Portuguese origins. The smooth, slightly sweet type of bread comes from the formerly Portuguese colony of Goa, south of Mumbai. Chefs and home cooks everywhere have their own secrets for making the best bhaji, a potato-based mix of spiced, mashed vegetables. Some leave the mixture smooth, like mashed potatoes, while others leaving it lumpy, like vegetables in gravy.
Prepare the Pav
Heat the grill or frying pan over a medium flame.
Cut the pavs in half, like a hamburger bun.
Toast the pav halves on the an until they are golden brown inside but not charred or hard.
Coat the toasted side generously with butter.
Prepare the Toppings
Slice small green chilies into thin rounds.
Dice raw red onions into small cubes.
Remove cilantro leaves from their stems and finely chop them.
Cut small lemons or limes into eighths in wedges.
Add Toppings to the Bhaji
Spoon a helping of bhaji onto your plate.
Cut off a pad of butter and place it on top of the pile of bhaji.
Top the bhaji with a sprinkling of onions and chilies to taste along with a small handful of cilantro leaves.
Squeeze two lemon wedges over the bhaji and toppings.
Eat the Bhaji with the Pav
Hold your plate with your left hand and a pav in your right.
Squeeze the side of the pav to make it curve slightly into a scoop and scoop up a bite of bhaji.
Take a bite of the pav, covered in bhaji, and repeat until you have finished the bhaji.
Break off another piece of pav and wipe the plate with it to mop up any remaining bhaji.
Pav bhaji is not typically eaten with a spoon, although some find it difficult to scoop up all of the bhaji with their pav or prefer to limit their carbohydrate and butter consumption. Save one to two bites of pav to wipe you plate with, mix the remaining toppings into the bhaji and eat the bhaji with a spoon.