The 162-year-old journey of Pav Bhaji

Like popular street foods such as samosa or pani-poori, Pav Bhaji has made its way into the hearts of people in every state and city. But did you know that this beloved street food was invented back in 1860’s as a meal option for cotton mill workers? To know more such interesting facts, continue reading.

Pav Bhaji-food-tpci

Photo Source: Pexel

“One of the nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing
   and devote our attention to eating”
  -Luciano Pavarotti

A street food fan favourite: Pav Bhaji

Loaded with nutrition and vegetables, Pav Bhaji is a dish considered as a culinary identity or soul food by street food lovers across the country. A street food gem from Mumbai, Pav Bhaji has made its way into the hearts of people in every state & cities. But did you know, this indigenous fast food dates back to the 19th century?

History of the Pav Bhaji

The origins of Pav Bhaji can be traced back to the American Civil War which took place between years 1861 to 1865. The war led to an unprecedented demand for cotton and the textile mills in India had to keep up with the vast cotton supply. Mill workers worked round the clock to meet the demand at the textile mills in Mumbai. The workload was such that the mill workers barely had any spare time to eat in peace.

This is when the street vendors thought of coming up with a dish that can be stomach filling and is affordable for the lower working class. To prepare this dish, street vendors, mashed leftover vegetables and mixed it in a base of tomatoes, potatoes and curry power. This vegetable gravy was then served with Pav or English bread. The convenience of preparing Pav Bhaji was as popular as the ease of consuming it.

At the same time, some sources also believe that this Indian fast food has Portuguese roots. The Portuguese would create a dish by combining different vegetables. Further, the Portuguese word for bread is ‘Pao’. Interestingly, the same word in Hindi means a quarter. In the context of the bread, it denotes that only a quarter is consumed.

Growing popularity over the years

Pav Bhaji soon gained immense popularity across the island city of Mumbai and was sold at every nook and corner for dirt-cheap price. Over the span of 160 years, the recipe of Pav Bhaji has also evolved. The dish can be served with butter, cheese, or garlic tadka and for people with Jain dietary, without onion and potatoes.

This is a street food that has many combinations and flavours. Pav Bhaji is not only limited as a street food but served at major restaurants and hotels in every state. It is South Asia’s most popular street food. As per various food blogs, Pav Bhaji has been ranked as the number 1 top prepared food ingredients and pairings in India.

A street food meant for all!

The Bhaji or vegetable curry is also a top choice among vegetarians and vegans as the food ingredients may consist of only vegetables.  Nearly 15 million people eat Pav Bhaji every other day in Mumbai alone. So, next time you eat this Indian street food, do think of the long journey it has made to make a way into your hearts.


  1. Informative and Useful.

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