Pav bhaji remains an intrinsic part of Mumbai’s street food culture. But who introduced Mumbai, or rather, the world to the mouth-watering and all time favorite pav bhaji? None other than Sardar Ahmed, who first began selling pav bhaji in Tardeo about 52 years back. The area being a hub of mills, attracted many workers who worked round-the-clock. The owners remember how they crowded the eatery whenever their shift got over.
How It Began
Sardar Ahmed stood outside the gates of the mills to sell vegetables, fruits and juices to the workers but he always wondered, “How can I give these hard working guys something that is healthier, fresh and yet affordable?” His curiosity to find something healthy yet affordable for the workers led to the discovery of a dish with potatoes, onions, tomatoes and other seasonal vegetables - mashed then cooked together and served with a (more than) generous helping of butter. Thus, came the ever famous pav bhaji, a hot favourite amongst Mumbaikars.
“My father wanted to serve something that was more like a meal but was available at the price of a snack dish. Something that was easy to eat standing, but was yet fresh and healthy. We still make it with lots of vegetables – fresh green peas, capsicum etc. along with potatoes and tomatoes, and our own secret masalas. We do not put artificial food color or other additives, so our pav bhaji is not red-coloured like many pav bhajis but a natural brown colour. And of course Amul butter is the key ingredient.”Nissar Ansari, owner of Sardar Pav Bhaji
In the beginning, a plate of pav bhaji cost 60 paisa, which is now priced at Rs 125. The restaurant has a lot of variations like cheese pav bhaji, jain pav bhaji (made with peas, capsicum and tomatoes, sans onions, potatoes and garlic) and khada bhaji pav (For those who don’t like their bhaji mashed beyond recognition).
The place still sells just pav bhaji and is also famous among Bollywood celebrities like Kajol and Ajay Devgn, Sachin Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar and Suniel Shetty.
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