Juhu Beach pau bhaji

Juhu Beach pau bhaji

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
Emma Lee

This is a taste experience that I highly recommend. Juhu Beach is a famous stretch of sand in Mumbai. I haven’t been for decades, but I remember it to be as bustling as any busy street: a throng of people to manoeuvre around, pony rides for children, blaring Bollywood music, a monotonous cacophony of hawkers... and the tempting smell of food. Pau bhaji just means bread and vegetables, but that name does no justice to this glorious recipe. It is a divine, buttery Indian vegetable mash with a thick spongy bread crisped up in butter, served with lemon wedges and red onion. You will need to buy pau bhaji masala, but this is easily available online and is a really versatile spice blend.

For the vegetables


Quantity Ingredient
1 small green pepper, in roughly 1 cm cubes
300g cauliflower, in small florets
salt, to taste
3 large tomatoes, chopped
3 large potatoes, cooked, peeled and roughly cubed
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 teaspoons paprika, for colour
3-4 teaspoons pau bhaji masala, to taste
large handful coriander leaves, plus more to serve
large handful peas
120-140g unsalted butter, plus more for the bread
4 teaspoons lemon juice, or to taste

For the tarka

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 fat garlic cloves, peeled and grated
20g root ginger, grated, (peeled weight)
small handful coriander leaves, chopped

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
8 pau or white burger buns
1 red onion, finely chopped
lemon wedges


  1. Place the pepper and cauliflower in a large, wide pan. Place on the heat, add enough water to come 1 cm up the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Add some salt, the tomatoes, potatoes, tomato purée, paprika, 2 teaspoons of the pau bhaji masala, the coriander, peas and 80 g of the butter.
  2. Now you have to cook this mixture, adding water when the pan is dry. As it cooks, you need to keep mashing the whole thing (I use a potato masher) until it is all cooked and has become a lumpy purée. It will take around 30 minutes and you will keep needing to add water when it starts to catch the base of the pan. Taste; it should all seem harmonious and cooked and look lovely and creamy and mashed. Leave it on a low flame as you cook the onion.
  3. Heat the remaining butter with the oil for the tarka in a small pan, add the onion and cook until just soft, then add the garlic and ginger and cook until the garlic is lightly golden. Add another 1 teaspoon of the pau bhaji masala and give it another 30 seconds, add the coriander, then pour into the vegetables. Add lemon juice to taste and a little splash of water and cook for another five minutes. Taste, adding more of the masala if you think it needs it, then adjust the seasoning and lemon juice to taste.
  4. When ready to eat, slice the pau or burger buns in half and spread with butter. Place butter-side down in a frying pan and toast lightly, pressing down so it gets crispy and golden in places.
  5. Serve the bread hot with the vegetables, a little bowl of finely chopped onion and the lemon wedges. Take a piece of the bread, top with some of the vegetable mixture, sprinkle over a little onion and squeeze over lemon juice to taste.
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