Very early on in our marriage, I learnt that A was a huge fan of Western Indian cuisine - a consequence, he explained, of having lived there for a big chunk of his "after-school-life".
Very early on in my role as a mother, I learnt that Anya won't try A's favorite Paav-Bhaaji unless I could convince her (or SHE could convince herself) that her 'non-Indian' classmates also ate the same thing.
This is how the "Indian Sloppy Joe" came into existence in my house. And believe it or not, it was actually Anya who coined the term. She must've been in preschool when at sleep-time one day she excitedly told me that her classmate had brought a Sloppy Joe for lunch.
"What's a Sloppy Joe?"
" You know mommy- the one that you made for dinner tomorrow....(every day was tomorrow for her at that age)"
I was desperate to get her to sleep by then. "Can I take a sloppy Joe to school tomorrow, mommy?"
"I don't know- let me think about it." And as soon as she was asleep, I Googled "Sloppy Joe"; and still didn't understand what Anya wanted for lunch. I guess her "you made it for dinner tomorrow" was probably weeks ago by then.
Life went on- that morning must've been tough because either Anya won't eat anything, or she'll just eat what she wants. And I definitely didn't have a Sloppy Joe in her lunch bag that day. But she didn't forget. I didn't either...so the day I heard her scream with happiness "Mommy, you made Sloppy Joe for dinner!!!" I remember memorizing what I'd for dinner that day. And then when I googled, it made perfect sense. Looking through her then-4yr.-old eyes, Paav-Bhaaji is a mirror image of a Sloppy Joe.
So now, when A gets Paav-Bhaaji for dinner; the girls get Indian Sloppy Joe- Indian, because "we don't eat meat.....". Makes perfect sense.
(Mashed vegetables on butter-fried burger-bun)
About 4 cups of mixed vegetables ( have potatoes, cauliflower, peas and carrots)
Onion 1 medium, cut into thin slices
Green capsicum 1/2, chopped fine
Tomatoes 2 large, chopped
Tomato sauce 2tsp
Green chillies 4, chopped
Ginger about an inch piece, washed, peeled and chopped fine
Salt to taste
Red pepper to season
Turmeric powder a generous pinch
Paav-Bhaaji Masala 3 Tbsp
Lemon juice as needed
Cilathro (to garnish, optional)
Indian Paav, Hamburger buns or dinner rolls
Generous amounts of butter.
To make Bhaaji:
- Chop, wash and prepare all veggies and keep aside.
- Splutter some cumin seeds in oil, in a pressure cooker.
- Add the onions. Sauté till translucent, and then add the chillies and ginger.
- Stir in the chopped capsicum, tomatoes and tomato paste and fry for a few minutes.
- Now I mix in my spices and keep frying on low heat till the oil seperates.
- Next, add in the mixed vegetables, about a 1/2 cup of water and give it all a good stir.
- Cook for about 3 steam whistles, then turn off. Let the pressure release on its own.
- Once done, I use a potato masher to mash up the Bhaaji as well as I can, and adjust the seasoning.
- Mix in a generous amount of lemon juice (or serve with a lemon wedge on the side), and garnish with cilantro.
- In a skillet warmed over low heat, brown a generous pat of butter.
- Slice the bread in the middle (like with a hamburger bun), and brown both pieces, on both sides in butter.
My two cents: I don't make it as often as I should...generally, this dish is for when I have a bunch of vegetables in the fridge that I want to get rid of....or when A accuses me of neglecting his likes :-)) I have used cabbage instead of a cauliflower, and green beans in here. But honestly, I just like this version better. This is apparently a very popular street food in West India. Up north, it is still a "special" dish, and you often see it on Wedding party menus, and the bread is literally swimming in butter (yum). Anya "Sloppy Joes" her dish, and won't eat fried bread (the bun has to be just as it comes, mommy....).....so I just sneak the butter in her Bhaaji!!
Here in US, I have used mini dinner rolls, and then cut then into fours. After filling it with bhaaji, I secure the top and bottom with a toothpick - holds up great as a finger food in our get-togethers.