The Street Food of India
India has a vibrant culture of street food, with vendors preparing all manner of meals and snacks from portable stands. In Sultans of the Street, the children interact with a street food vendor, the Pao-Bhaji Wallah, who is really a 700 year-old wise man. He serves Pao-Bhaji (also sometimes called Pav Bhaji), a vegetable stew served on toasted, buttered rolls. Each order is prepared to the taste of the customer, who can choose how toasted the roll should be, how much butter should be spread, and whether to add tomato, onion, lime, mango powder, and other seasonings.
Here is a sample recipe so you can try Pao-Bhaji at home:
Pao Bhaji Recipe
Cook time: 30 min. 2-4 servings
- 2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
- 1 large onion chopped finely
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 green chillies slit lengthwise
- 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
- 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 cup each of each of these vegetables, finely diced and boiled: green beans, carrots, cauliflower
- 1 cup boiled and peeled potatoes
- 1/2 cup boiled green peas
- 3 tsp pav bhaji masala (available at Indian groceries, or make your own using the recipe below)
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp lime juice
- 2-4 buns (called pavs)
- Heat oil in a pan. Add onions, ginger, garlic, and green chillies and sauté till golden brown. Add boiled vegetables and stir until heated through.
- Stir in the pav bhaji masala, turmeric, tomatoes, bell pepper and salt. Add slit green chillies and water and mix well. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Mash the vegetables till they are little pulpy.
- Add lime juice and serve with toasted, buttered buns or other bread. You can also serve chopped tomatoes, onions, lime, and mango powder on the side to add to taste.
Pav Bhaji Masala Recipe
- 2 small black cardamoms
- 4 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- ¾ tbsp. fennel seeds
- 5 red dry chilies (or to taste)
- 2 inch cinnamon cinnamon stick
- 6 cloves
- 1 tbsp amchur powder (dry mango powder)
- In a pan on the stove, dry roast all the ingredients one after the other except amchur powder.
- Add amchur powder to the hot ingredients to release amchur’s aroma. Once cool, crush with a mortar and pestle, in a food processor, or a spice grinder to make a fine powder. Sieve if necessary.
- Store in an air tight glass jar. Keeps for 6 months in the fridge.
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