Pav Bhaji


India’s take on the sloppy joe is chock full of veggies and yummy spices, converting even the pickiest eaters



For my “Meals Kids LOVE Around the World” series, I really wanted to incorporate recipes from around the world. So, I was thrilled to get a submission from Vinanti for Indian pav bhaji. 

 Vinanti and her two boys Avik and Aarav live in Houston, Texas. Originally, they were from India. Pav bhaji is Avik and Aarav’s favorite dish. According to Vinanti, pav bhaji is essentially a spiced vegetable mash served with dinner rolls and red onions. Vegetables are cooked until soft and then mashed up with various spices before being served. 

Vinanti started making this dish for her children because her father used to make it for her growing up. Now, Vinanti’s children are the second generation to enjoy homemade pav bhaji. Avik and Aarav love how fluffy their mom’s vegetable mash is.  

Normally, the family would use store-bought dinner rolls. But, when COVID-19 closed many stores and meant people had to stay at home, the family decided to bake their own dinner rolls from scratch. Now, making dinner rolls together is their favorite family activity. As soon as the family starts smelling yeast in the oven, they all get very excited. 

Vinanti thinks this dish is great for kids because it is full of vegetables and easy to make. All you need to make this dish are potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, and onions. But, claims Vinanti, parents can add any vegetables they want their kids to try. The best part is that kids will have no idea what vegetables are actually hidden in the mash. 

I love pav bhaji, so I was super excited to make it for myself and a child. I think that pav bhaji is one of the simplest “kitchen sink” type dishes that you can make. It really can take any leftover vegetables that you have. Best of all, you don’t need a full spice cabinet to make this dish. Instead, you can use a premade “pav bhaji” spice mix. I love how the vegetables meld together with the spices and fresh bread. I think that many people worry about making Indian food for their children because Indian food tends to be very spicy. One trick that I like to use to make this dish more kid-friendly is adding extra lemon juice, yogurt, and sugar to the mix after it is as spicy as I want. I only add this to the child’s portion so that we can both enjoy our own spice levels.   

I had to give this to a child to try, so I gave some pav bhaji to eight-year-old Penny. Penny had never tried pav bhaji. She likes the flavors a lot and does think the pav bhaji is a little bit spicy. However, she says the bread mellows down the spice quite a bit. Overall, Penny would definitely try this dish again and recommend it to other kids. 

Watch the Video


  • 2 cups cauliflower chopped
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1 large carrot peeled and chopped
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 1 large potato chopped into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp ghee
  • 2 Tbsp pav phaji masala
  • pav buns for serving


  • Turn instant pot to sauté mode. Add ghee and heat.
  • Add onions and sauté until softened slightly.
  • Add bell peppers and tomatoes, stir to combine. Add masala mix and stir until fragrant.
  • Add remaining vegetables, stir to combine.
  • Turn off sauté mode and switch to pressure cook for 12 minutes. Natural release before opening.
  • Using a handheld masher, mash vegetables till it forms a cohesive mixture. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Serve warm with pav buns on the side!
Course: Breakfast
Diet: Vegetarian
Keyword: Kid Friendly


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