Picking from the abundance of street foods oozing along the lanes of India, one, in particular, has ceased to amaze our taste buds for its twisty invention - Masala Pav. This delicacy is an all-time favourite street food from Mumbai, which is relished with great devotion. The reason it is famously called Mumbai Style Masala Pav.

While the name seems a little confusing, a masala pav is simply a mash-up between the pav bhaji and dabeli. But speaking the truth, a masala pav is a humble combination involving marinating the soft fluffy pieces of pav into the spicy tangy vegetable-based masala - and all of it fried over a generous amount of butter. It is easier to prepare and quicker to clear out of the plates. 

Though there isn’t any recorded proof as to how masala pav came into existence it sure has given Indians a riot of flavours. One theory definitely could be as mentioned above – a mash-up. From the leftover bhaji, someone somewhere thought of just rambling the pav through the spare bhaji. Vola! We got ourselves masala pav. However, what makes a masala pav unique from the regular pav bhaji – considering most of the ingredients are similar – is the fact that traditionally potatoes aren’t used for this street food. The masala is purely made out of vegetables.  

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp butter  
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds  
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic  
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger  
  • 1 tsp finely chopped green chilies  
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions  
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes  
  • 1 cup finely chopped capsicum  
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder  
  • 1 tsp chili powder  
  • 1 tbsp pav bhaji masala  
  • Water as required  
  • Coriander leaves  
  • Salt as required  
  • 4 pavs  
  • 1 lemon  

Source: iStock

Method

  1. Place a pan on medium heat. Add butter and cumin seeds to it. The moment cumin seeds start to burst, throw in the finely chopped garlic, ginger, green chillies, and onion. Sauté well until they start to slightly change colour. 
  2. Now to the pan add the tomatoes and sauté for a while till the tomatoes become soft. 
  3. Once you notice the tomatoes start to emulsify add the remaining masalas - turmeric powder, chili powder, and pav bhaji masala. 
  4. Sauté the tomatoes and masalas for two minutes, then add capsicum, salt, coriander leaves, and water (as required) to it. 
  5. Let the mixture simmer for some time, or until you notice all of it coming together forming a unified thick paste. Once it reaches the desired consistency, remove the pan from the heat. 
  6. On the side, slice the pav into half from the middle. In another pan add butter and place the pav on it. Toast them from both sides until the skin becomes a little crispy. 
  7. Remove the toasted pav, place them on a plate and add masala on both sides. Once more, slide the stuffed pavs into the pan, add some butter and toast it again. The second round of toasting should be for a few seconds.  Serve with onion and a little squeeze of lemon.

A simple masala pav holds great power, for it can be done with some leftover vegetables as well. It is one of the quickest and simplest snacks to gorge on. Remember the secret to Mumbai Style Masala Pav is oodles of butter and a free hand in spices.