Thursday, 4 September 2014

Potato-Free Pav Bhaji

Good food, like good music, is nourishing and cleansing for the body and soul.

Nothing quite makes a cold weeknight better than a hot, home-cooked, flavourful pot of goodness, warming up your insides as you gobble it up without a second thought. The enlightening music and gas heater add considerable value, no doubt.

During such considerably cold nights feeling a little lazy; a little calm; a little content under a warm blanket, my heart inevitably steers towards the likes of Carnatic and Hindustani based tunes. A few months ago, I saw the movie Ram Leela and fell in love. Not with the movie, but with the song Laal Ishq; with Arjit Singh. Honestly, his voice is not powerful; powerful is his voice! The song contains great depth, particularly in the chorus and the second verse. A depth that is often poorly attempted in most compositions. That depth is only understood when it sparks something in you that you don't expect. It's a beautiful feeling. The raag really consumes me. Mera naam ishq hits the high notes beautifully, and it's even more beautiful when he graually descends to mera naam, tera naam, mera naam ishq.... Magnificent and addictive composition.

"Bas ek rahe mera kaam ishq,
Mera kaam ishq, mera kaam ishq,
Mera naam ishq, tera naam ishq,
Mera naam, tera naam, mera naam ishq.."

"Yeh kaali raat jhakad loon,,
Yeh thanda chaand pakad loon.
Din-raat ke bairi bhed ka
Rukh mod ke main rakh dun"

I don't like Pav Bhaji - SAID NO ONE EVER. It's a smell on the streets of Mumbai that will force you to succumb at any time, any day; although any dish laden with ghee smells amazing. Traditionally a street fast food served with a soft toasted pav bun, it is a spicy onion and mashed vegetable curry infused with tangy spices and liberally complimented with ghee. In it's best form, it probably isn't the healthiest meal you could eat. Carby buns and starchy potatoes don't exactly spell healthy for dinner, but alas! The taste can still be achieved without all that. I subbed the potatoes with mashed cauliflower, and used multigrain buns instead. Believe me, even your picky 'yeh kya khilaa rahi hai?' friends won't know the difference.

Total time required: 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 4

1 large onion diced
1 large tomato diced
1/2 a cauliflower
2 strands of curry leaves

3 green chillies finely chopped
3 tablespoons of ghee

1 teaspoon jeera
1 teaspoon of Pav Bhaji masala
1 pinch of turmeric
2 tablespoons milk
1 garlic clove minced (optional)
Salt to taste

Extra ghee, chopped coriander and freshly squeezed lemon/lime to garnish.

Cut your cauliflower up into bite size florets and boil in hot water till completely cooked. This will take at least 20 minutes on high heat with a closed lid.
Whilst the cauliflower is boiling, in another hot pan/kadai, add 2 tablespoons of ghee and once hot, add jeera, turmeric, curry leaves, pav bhaji masala, green chillies and onion. If you take garlic, add this now too. Saute on medium heat for a few minutes till golden and fragrant, then add the tomatoes. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add a little water if it starts to dry up.
Once the cauliflower is cooked, run under cold water. Once cool, throw into a blender/food processor, add the 2 tablespoons of milk and 1 tablespoon of ghee and blend till you have a thick and creamy mashed-potato-like consistency.
Add this to the hot kadai and mix well. Add salt to taste. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes and turn off the heat.

Garnish generously with lemon and coriander leaves. Serve each bowl with a dollop of ghee in the middle and a some hot toasted buns.