This Instant Pot Cauliflower Pav Bhaji comes together in less than 30 minutes and uses a few easy tweaks to keep it a low carb Indian food while still keeping the integrity of the dish.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you already know how much I love Indian food. I make several Indian dishes at home, including Dal Makhani, Rogan Josh, Naan, and my personal favorite, Indian Butter Chicken.
Pav Bhaji is a great choice when you want a vegetarian option. Or if you want a veggie-rich dish, but don’t want to forgo the meat, grill up some Tandoori chicken or fish to serve along with it. In terms of low carb Indian food, this recipe will surprise you with just how flavorful it is!
What is Pav Bhaji?
Pav Bhaji is an Indian street food dish originating in Mumbai. Bhaji is a vegetable curry usually made of potato, cauliflower, green peas, onion, and garlic in a spiced tomato sauce. It may also contain carrots, green beans, and/or bell peppers. This curry can be served chunky or mashed a bit for less texture. Butter is typically melted down on top of the curry, which adds flavor and richness. Additionally, garnishes can include fresh onion, cilantro, and lime or lemon wedges. This rich vegetable curry is then served with toasted, buttered bread rolls, known as Pav.
Is Pav Bhaji Junk Food?
Pav Bhaji is street food, but not necessarily junk food. It’s commonly served as lunch or a snack, similar to how we’d buy a hot dog or taco from a street vendor in a big city. Compared with other street foods that we’re familiar with (like a burger and fries), a vegetable-rich curry doesn’t seem at all like junk food.
When you’re limiting your carb intake, Pav Bhaji isn’t usually thought of as a low carb Indian food. It may contain a few different starchy vegetables, such as potato, carrot, and green peas, and it’s also served with bread. However, if you’re looking for low carb Indian food, I have you covered with my version.
Pav Bhaji Nutrition Facts
11g total fat
Low Carb Indian Food
I was able to lower the carbs quite a bit without sacrificing any of the flavor. Here are the alterations I made to ensure that this dish was a low carb friendly meal:
- I omitted the potatoes and used more cauliflower. In general, cauliflower is used frequently as a potato substitute (think: mashed cauli, cauliflower gratin, cauli hash, etc.) and this dish isn’t lacking anything by skipping the potato.
- I only used 1/4 cup of green peas for the entire recipe. I love green peas, but let’s face it, they are high in carbs!
- Instead of serving this Cauliflower Pav Bhaji with regular bread rolls, I served them with my Low Carb Biscuits with just a couple changes. I omitted the 2 oz sharp yellow cheddar, and omitted the garlic powder.
Garam masala is a spice mix originally from the Punjab region in northern India. It varies slightly by region, as well as by family and personal preference. Garam masala goes into many curries, and is used on its own as a seasoning.
Garam masala literally translates to “warm spice mix”, but this doesn’t refer to heat level. Warm in this sense refers to the warming Ayurvedic effect these spices have on the body.
Spices in Garam Masala
Garam masala usually contains:
- Dried ginger
- Black cardamom
- Green cardamom
- Black pepper
- Bay leaves
And may also have:
- Star anise
Is Garam Masala the Same as Curry Powder?
Garam masala is not the same thing as curry powder; although they share a few ingredients, each is its own unique spice blend. Curry typically contains quite a bit of turmeric, which gives it a bright yellow color, which isn’t present in garam masala. Also, garam masala is typically a bit sweeter than curry.
How to Make This Instant Pot Recipe on the Stovetop
This recipe is relatively easy to make on the stovetop, although the Instant Pot really does make very fast work of it! Here is how to make this recipe on the stovetop instead:
- Heat a medium to large saucepan over medium heat. Add the ghee and onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir the garlic, ginger, garam masala, salt, turmeric, chili powder, and fenugreek and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the cauliflower, water, and tomato paste to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then cover the pot, turn the heat down to simmer, and cook until the cauliflower is tender, but not mushy, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stir in the butter, and once melted, stir in the peas and lemon juice.
- Serve topped with fresh cilantro leaves and minced red onion sprinkled on top, along with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze on top.
More Indian Recipes:
- Low Carb Keto Indian Butter Chicken from The Keto Queens
- Baingan Bharta (Smoky Eggplant Stir-Fry) from My Food Story
- Easy Chana Masala from Minimalist Baker
- Palak Paneer from Cooking with Manali
Instant Pot Cauliflower Pav Bhaji (Low Carb Indian Food)
- 2 tablespoons grass-fed clarified butter ghee
- 1 medium onion diced
- 5 large cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon fresh-grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon garam masala spice mix
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
- 1 3/4 lbs cauliflower about 1 large head, chopped into florets
- 1 cup water
- 5 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup frozen green peas thawed (optional; leave out to lower the carbs)
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 Buttered rolls I used my Low Carb Cheddar Bay Biscuits
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Minced red onion
- Fresh lemon or lime wedges
Turn the Instant Pot on, press “Sauté”, and wait 2 minutes for the pot to heat up. Add the ghee and onion and cook until translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, salt, turmeric, chili powder, and fenugreek and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Press “Cancel” to stop sautéing.
Add the cauliflower, water, and tomato paste to the pot. Turn the pot on Manual, High Pressure for 2 minutes and then do a quick release.
Stir in the butter, and once melted, stir in the peas and lemon juice.
Serve topped with fresh cilantro leaves and minced red onion sprinkled on top, along with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze on top.
Net Carbs: 13g per serving (1/8 of curry and 1/2 buttered low carb biscuit)
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I believe in, which means that even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra, I will receive a small amount of money from the sale of these items. Thank you for helping to support An Edible Mosaic!