Making vegan Pav Bhaji is like making vegan Dal Makhani because, frankly, both are impossible. These two traditional Indian dishes are not meant to be vegan. Both Dal Makhani and Pav Bhaji are supposed to be cooked with lots of dairy butter, and once cooked, even more butter is added at the time of serving. In India, people even associate Pav Bhaji with just one dairy butter brand – ‘Amul.’
Pav Bhaji (potato & veggies curry) is a popular Indian curry eaten with soft plain bread buns, which are not sweet. These are more like slider buns. The buns are coated with melted butter just before serving.
So, as you can see, if it is Pav Bhaji you are talking about, it’s all about butter. The unique flavor of Pav Bhaji comes from butter and nothing else.
Yes, we vegans have a problem here. The easiest way out for us to make a vegan Pav Bhaji is to use vegan butter, but again, it will not taste like the real thing. I have tried cooking it with olive oil, but the result was not good. Nothing except butter will work.
NikkiVegan’s Vegan Pav Bhaji
‘NikkiVegan’ Youtube channel’s Pav Bhaji recipe is a simplistic one, not authentic. But for that matter, it does not have to be authentic. If you can make food taste good, that should be enough. However, if you are interested in a more professional version of vegan Pav Bhaji, you may like to see this Vegan Pav Bhaji video from India’s TV chef Sanjeev Kapoor.
One more thing, NikkiVegan’s video mentions that “traditionally ricotta cheese is used in Pav Bhaji,” which is totally false. There is no such tradition in India. It is just butter. Some restaurants do serve “cheese Pav Bhaji,” but in that dish, some ordinary processed cheese is grated and sprinkled on top of Pav Bhaji at the time of serving.
Additional Tip: If you are buying Pav Bhaji Masala, try to buy either the ‘MDH’ brand (also suggested in the video) or the ‘Everest’ brand. Both of these are good.