Here I’m ‘promoting’ the wonders of curry leaves. Curry leaves, known as kadi patta in Hindi, can play a role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. They’re also said to have antioxidant properties that help protect the liver. These leaves are widely used in Indian cooking where they’re often crisped in oil and used to garnish dishes or added to enhance curries and dahls.
Fresh curry leaves are great if you can get hold of them, but for me they’re not always easy to come by. So, you can imagine my delight when as a ‘Happy Easter’ gesture an avid local gardener gave me a ton of them. Well perhaps not a ton exactly but it was a huge bag of small branches from his own curry leaf tree (a tree known as Murraya koenigii). I couldn’t resist using some of them right away in this pav bhaji. The rest are stored in a glass jar in the fridge where I’m hoping they’ll stay fresh and fragrant for a little while.
Pav bhaji is a thick vegetable curry. I’d compare the texture to roughly blended mash potato. The dish originates from the Indian state of Maharashtra, a state well known for its capital, Mumbai. Pav bhaji is packed with spices and served, with freshly baked bread, to thousands of Mumbai locals getting their daily fix of Indian street food.
The recipe here is based on one from Rick Stein. For Rick ‘the indulgence of eating a cracking pav bhaji is similar to that of a beautifully made hamburger’. For me the beauty of pav bhaji, like many of my favourite Indian veggie dishes, is that I’d happily eat for breakfast lunch or dinner.
Using Rick’s recipe as a start point I made a few key ingredient ‘swaps’ – the main ones being using sweet potatoes, curry leaves, garden peas and coconut oil – where Rick uses standard potatoes, fresh coriander, marrowfat peas and butter. I also added garlic, because everything tastes better with garlic.
- 500g sweet potatoes
- 2-3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 400g canned or ripe tomatoes
- 200g garden peas
- Handful of fresh curry leaves
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp each of ground coriander, chilli powder, salt
- 1/4 tsp each of ground fennel, turmeric, ground ginger
- Cube the sweet potato and steam or roast it until soft. If roasting add a little water and keep it covered during cooking to keep it moist. Once soft roughly blend or mash the potato.
- Finely slice the onion and finely chop the garlic. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan and once hot cook the onion and garlic until soft. Then add the cumin seeds and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the mashed sweet potato followed by the tomatoes and the remaining spices and salt and mix well. Simmer on a medium heat.
- In a separate pan ‘crisp’ the fresh curry leaves in a little coconut oil and then add them to the pav bhaji alongside the peas. Continue to simmer until the peas are cooked through.
Pav bhaji and bread are a winning combination, and as Rick Stein recommends pav bhaji also pairs well with freshly sliced red onion rings. If you’re a fan of Indian food I’m confident you’ll be a fan of pav bhaji.
And if you happen to have a stash of fresh curry leaves then check out my past posts below for other ways you can use these health boosting leaves.
- Cabbage thoran
- Coconut & chickpea curry with curry leaves
- Dhokla with curry leaves & mustard seeds
- Pineapple pickle