Poblano What?! A burger with Pav Bhaji?! Yep you heard it right. A Pav Bhaji Burger….. with Poblano Peppers. Pav Bhaji is a very popular dish in India and among Indians everywhere in the world. Back in the 1800’s, workers would take leftover veggies and turn it into a curry. These workers usually could not afford much so they became creative. I piggy backed on that creativity and put my own spin to a classic Indian dish.
Growing up, whenever my friends asked me what it was, I would always say it’s an Indian version of Sloppy Joe’s. Traditionally, Pav Bhaji has peas, potatoes, cauliflower and other mixed vegetables. I changed up the veggies and made it a little thicker so I can turn it into a burger filling.
Before you get started though, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s my Pav Bhaji Masala. There are quite a few different spices that comprise of this masala but growing up, my Mom has always used a pre-made mix. She’s always used it as her weapon to a successful Pav Bhaji so I figure, why change it up? It’s the Badshah Pav Bhaji Masala and you can usually find it in any Indian store. This is what it looks like:
Ok, so here’s how I made the Pav Bhaji:
Steam the cabbage, zucchini, eggplant, and carrots. These will need to be mashed so steam/boil the heck out of them!
When the veggies are done steaming, mash them. Reserve the liquid. You’ll need to use it later.
Meanwhile, sauté onions in oil. Then add in the ginger and garlic once the onions are translucent. Just the smell of the onions, garlic and ginger sautéing is enough to make me hungry!
Add in the tomatoes and cook it down until the oil separates. Tip: If you are making a gravy (especially Indian ones), it’s essential to add the tomatoes after the onions and any other veggies are cooked down. The acid in the tomatoes prevent other vegetables from tenderizing for a gravy.
Add salt, turmeric, pav bhaji masala, and cayenne pepper. Mix it really well.
This is what it should look like when the tomatoes have cooked down. This is the basis of your gravy (hint – for a lot of Indian dishes, this is what you start with. A lot of regional foods have basic ingredients in their dishes, i.e. Southern cooking has the Cajun trinity of bell peppers, onions, and celery. Most Indians feel like they are missing out without tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic. Well, at least the Indians in my family.)
Add in the mashed veggies and mix well.
Remember how I told you to reserve some of the liquid used to steam the veggies earlier? Well, add it in at this point to thin out the Pav Bhaji. As it cooks, the water will burn off so you’ll need some extra in there. I just love the color and knowing I’m preserving some of the nutrients from the boiled veggies.
Also add in fresh lemon juice and mix well. The fresh acid gives it a bright taste and tones down all those serious spices a notch.
Your Bhaji part for the Pav Bhaji is done at this point!
Let’s move on to the Poblano.
Grilling a Poblano is really easy though some may think it’s daunting. Rub Olive Oil all over the Poblano and put it over the grill or open flame. Roast it until it chars and the skin starts peeling. Oh I love the smell of grilled Poblanos. The taste is even better!
When it is done grilling, peel off the skin and chop into slices.
Now all you have left to do is assemble the burger.
Toast the bun on the grill and immediately add some Pepper Jack Cheese. You could add whatever your favorite cheese is – I just love the extra flavor and spice the Pepper Jack gives. Adding the cheese right away helps it melt into the burger.
Add a good helping of the Bhaji on to the cheese.
Add some strips of the Poblano to top it off.
There you go! I hope you enjoy your Poblano Pav Bhaji Burger as much as we did!
For the Bhaji:
1 med purple cabbage, steamed to mash
1 zucchini, steamed to mash
1 Eggplant, steamed to mash
1 lb baby carrots, steamed to mash
1 large red onion, chopped finely
2 roma tomatoes, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp Badshah Mumbai Pav Bhaji Masala
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 c reserved water from steamed veggies
For the Poblanos:
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 large Poblano Pepper
For the Burger:
4 sesame seed burger buns
1 Tbsp butter
4 slices Pepper Jack Cheese
Rub the EVOO all over the Poblano Pepper and set to roast over an open flame. Keep switching sides until most of the pepper is charred and the skin starts to peel off. Turn off the flame and remove skin with a napkin. Slice and set aside.
In a nonstick pot, heat EVOO and add onions. Sauté until translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add garlic and ginger and sauté for another 2 minutes. Finally, add tomatoes and sauté until tomatoes are tender and oil separates from the mixture.
Add in the dry spices and mix well. Once the spices are incorporated, add mashed veggies and mix. At this point, also add in the reserved liquid to thin down the gravy. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in lemon juice and mix.
To assemble the burger, butter the buns and toast both sides. Add a slice of the pepper jack cheese to the base of the bun, followed by a 1/4 c of the Bhaji mix. Top with sliced Poblanos and serve hot.