Pav bhaji with sweet potatoes and brown butter

For anyone unfamiliar with pav bhaji, it’s a spicy vegetable curry eaten with soft, fluffy pav buns and lots and lots of butter.

It was invented on the streets on Bombay, created as a way to to make a cheap meal out of leftover vegetables.

It’s the ultimate Indian comfort food and loved by kids and adults alike.

This recipe from Piping Pot Curry uses an insta pot to cook the vegetables faster. I don’t have an insta pot, so I took the opposite approach. I made this in my crock pot, or slow cooker. It takes a few hours, but you pretty much set it and forget it. Super easy.

I used sweet potatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, carrot, onion, tomatoes, and bell pepper. Some recipes also throw in green beans, peas, or cabbage.

It’s a pretty flexible recipe so feel free to use whatever veggies you like.

This recipe has 2 little twists:

1. I replaced 2 of the potatoes with sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes, and are a nice complement to the warm spices and tart tomatoes.

2. I browned the butter before toasting the pav in it. It adds a nice rich nuttiness that slightly elevates the dish.

You start by chopping up the veggies in a food processor so they cook faster. Here’s a glimpse of my chopped potatoes. Not the prettiest picture, but you get the idea.

Next, combine your veggies, spices, and butter in your crockpot, turn the heat up, cover the pot, and go chill for 3-4 hours.

Once the veggies are tender, mash them using an immersion blender.

Then season with lemon and salt and serve with hot, buttered pav (available at most Indian stores), Hawaiian sweet rolls, or hamburger buns.

Adapted from Piping Pot Curry.


  • 1 large potato
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 large cauliflower head
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pav bhaji spice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients – serving

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 packets pav, hamburger buns, or Hawaiian sweet rolls
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges
  • 2 small jalapeños, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese


  1. Heat up your crockpot to high and melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
  2. Using a food professor, chop 1 large potato, 2 sweet potatoes, 1 white onion, 1 large head of cauliflower, 1 carrot, and 1 green bell pepper.
  3. Put vegetables in pot, along with 2 tablespoons pav bhaji mix, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 tablespoons ginger, 2 tablespoons garlic, and a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes. Stir until ingredients are well distributed and cover with lid.
  4. 3-4 hours later, or when vegetables are fork-tender, remove pot from heat and mash vegetables using an immersion blender. Season with lemon juice and salt to taste. Your bhaji is ready.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium low heat. Watching carefully, heat butter until small brown flecks appear. Place 5-6 bun halves face down on butter and toast until they are slightly crispy around edges.
  6. Serve hot bhaji and pav with chopped onions, jalapeños, lemon wedges, shredded cheese, and more butter.
  7. Spoon some bhaji onto your plate or into a bowl and garnish with toppings of your choice. Eat by breaking off a piece of bun with your hands, and dipping it into the warm bhaji.

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