Instant Pot Indian Mashed Vegetables || Paav Bhaji (Paleo, AIP)

   Ever since I started doing Paleo and AIP, a lot of the Indian street foods went out of my kitchen window!  But slowly each one is making its way back … of course, with some make-overs 🙂 Ha Ha. That’s me, you see I love to eat and I am not too lazy or shy to experiment. So whenever I crave for my favorite foods, I try to recreate a version that’s at least 50% like the original! Well happy to report that in case of this Paav Bhaji , my ‘AIP with spices reintro’version was very very close to the original! My family did not even guess that there was anything different in this bhaji!

‘Pav Bhaji’ to me is one of those street foods that has so many pleasant memories associated with it. While I was in college, there used to be a famous Pav bhaji vendor right outside my suburban railway station and my friends and I would rush there at least once every two weeks to assuage our perpetual hunger! Finishing up a particularly tedious assignment counted as an important occasion and an accomplishment worthy of a ‘Pav Bhaji’ 🙂 So what about this dish that is so attractive?- At any given time of the day, you can usually see a huge crowd comprising of  young, the ‘not so young’ as well as the elderly all huddled outside a pav bhaaji street stall waiting patiently for their order!

History says that this spicy vegetable  ‘mish mash’ was concocted in the 1950s  for factory workers in Mumbai when they had to work late nights! These joints started using leftovers from the day and using a spicy tomato based sauce and potatoes turned the left overs into a delicious thick curry. And then offered this to the workers with left over bread rolls(paav) that were toasted with loads of butter! Hmm…are you salivating yet? 🙂

 As I have mentioned before in my posts, after doing a strict elimination AIP diet for a month, I have been able to re-introduce most of the Indian spices successfully.  However,  I do not do well on most nightshades like bell peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. But I have been able to handle small amounts of kashmiri chilli powder which is a mild pepper. I am also ok with potatoes as long as I have them moderately.

So in this version of my Paav Bhaji recipe, you will see kashmiri chilli powder and other spices but no bell peppers and tomatoes which are actually essential ingredients of the traditional street food recipe.  For your benefit, I have also included directions in my recipe to make it fully ‘elimination phase AIP compliant’. I have also used sweet potatoes instead of potatoes so that it is paleo friendly. However I will be honest – I do add potatoes only sometimes (excluding the sweet potato) and I like that version better because it is more savory than sweet. You could also use taro root instead of sweet potatoes. And some of the other root vegetables like rutabaga and turnip will also go quite well in this recipe. So feel free to experiment! Here I am going to give you a basic recipe but you could make it your very own adding your own blend of vegetables.  OK enough about the ‘bhaji’ part, but you are probably dying to know what did I do for the Pav (bread rolls)?

Easy! Ha…I just made AIP dinner rolls using Sarah Ballantyne’s recipe from her website The Paleo Mom!  Came out really good and I couldn’t wait to dunk a piece of that bread roll into the Bhaji!  Oh btw if you do not have the time or the green plantain for the dinner rolls recipe, you could also just make cassava rotis / tortillas and this bhaji tastes great with them too. I had my leftover bhaji with cassava parathas the next day. For parathas, I just used my cassava roti /tortilla recipe and just applied some olive oil on top while cooking them! Yum!

What else about this recipe that you need to know?

  1. I cooked this in the Instant Pot but you could also cook it in a regular pot (cooking it for a longer period of time).
  2. Instead of the traditional tomatoes, I use lemon juice to give the tanginess. I also use beets to give it that dang red color without the tomatoes.
  3. Peas are also commonly added in Paav Bhaji and I have excluded them.
  4. I use a very small quantity of the ‘Paav Bhaji’ masala which is a blend of several spices including red chillies.  You can completely exclude this and use my suggested recipe for an AIP version of this. Or just not use any spice blend at all. There is a large quantity of fresh ginger and garlic in this recipe and that makes it quite flavorful as is.
  5. I added extra virgin olive oil to give it a richness but you could also add palm shortening or coconut oil or any other AIP approved animal fat.

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Indian Mashed Vegetables with Bread Rolls|| Paav Bhaji (Whole30, Paleo, AIP)
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
A delicious and flavorful 'mish mash' made using different vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini and sweet potato that are cooked with lots of ginger, garlic and other spices.
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, cut into big chunks
  • one 1 inch by 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 8 medium garlic cloves
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 2-4 tsp Paav Bhaji masala (Use AIP Paav bhaji masala recipe given below for AIP)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ of a medium size cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 medium size zucchini, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium size carrot peeled and chopped
  • ½ of a small beet, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and chopped (omit for paleo and AIP)
  • 1½ cups water
  • juice of 1 lemon about 2 tbsp
  • additional sea salt if needed
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • lemon wedges
  • extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil or palm shortening to add on top
For the Bread rolls (Paav):
  • Refer to 'The Paleo Mom' website.
For AIP Pav Bhaji masala:
  1. Press the Saute button on the Instant Pot.
  2. In a food processor or a chopper, add the red onions, the ginger and the garlic. Pulse for a few seconds until everything is finely chopped.
  3. Add the olive oil and then add the finely chopped red onion, ginger and garlic mixture and fry for another couple mins stirring continuously. Add the salt, the turmeric and the Paav bhaji masala. Stir for 30 secs and then add all the chopped vegetables and the measured quantity of water. Close the lid, turn valve to sealing position and pressure cook for 8 mins. Let pressure release naturally and open.
  4. Using a potato masher or a hand blender, mash the cooked vegetables completely. Now add the lemon juice and check for taste. Add additional salt if needed. Add the fresh cilantro and stir to mix. Let simmer on saute mode(medium heat) for a few minutes until you get a thick mashed consistency. (about 5 mins). Press 'Cancel' to turn heat off.
  5. Garnish with the chopped red onions and lemon wedges.Drizzle more extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil or palm shortening.
  6. Serve the bhaji with freshly baked Paleo/AIP dinner rolls or with cassava rotis.
For AIP Pav bhaji masala:
  1. Mix all the spice powders together to blend well and keep in an airtight container and use as needed.
You can cook this in a regular cooking pot too but you would need to add double the amount of water and cook for double the time. Make sure you cook it covered.
You can use any mix of vegetables but use a combination of hard, medium hard, soft and root vegetables.


Are you on the AIP? Are you enjoying this diet but looking for quick, easy to put together meals? Why don’t you try this new ebook that has 120 recipes for AIP meals that can be made under 30 minutes?  And they are all super delicious too!

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