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The story of food is more than a collection of recipes: it tells the story of us. Or maybe I should put it this way: recipes are never 'just' recipes; they themselves tell the stories. 'Made in India' is such a wonderful, vibrant example of this - the second half of the title being 'Cooked in Britain: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen'. Meera Sodha's food is Gujarati as cooked in the north of England, with Kenyan and Ugandan influences along the way. It is deeply personal food, alive and authentic - the best sort - and, frankly, I want to cook everything in this book. Still, choose I must, and the recipe below makes me hungry and happy.


Disha's Pav Bhaji


From Made In India by Meera Sodha, published by Penguin Fig Tree, 2014.

I have to try hard to contain my excitement when someone gives me a recipe for something I’ve just eaten and fallen in love with. This is my cousin Disha’s recipe for pav bhaji, which is a famous and much-loved street food in Mumbai. It’s a mash of spicy vegetables slathered in butter, best mopped up with a hot ‘pav’ –  a bread roll –  while the juices escape down your chin.


200g mashing potatoes (Desiree, Maris Piper)
40g unsalted butter (plus extra knob to finish)
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
4cm ginger, peeled and grated
2 medium aubergines (500g in total), cut into 1cm cubes
400g tomato passata
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
optional: ½ teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder)
1½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon chilli powder
½ a head of cauliflower (around 250g), broken into 2cm cubes

To serve:
8 to 12 soft white bread rolls
1 red onion, finely chopped
a handful of fresh coriander leaves
a couple of lemon wedges, to squeeze over

Peel and chop the potatoes into equal-size chunks, then boil them for around 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain, mash, then set to one side.

Put the butter into a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on a medium heat. When it starts to foam, add the onions and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden. Add the garlic and ginger, and stir well. After a minute, add the aubergines to the pan and cover. Stir them every now and then until they’re soft – this should take around 10 minutes. Add the passata and tomato purée, and cook for around 5 to 7 minutes until it is a thick mash, rich and dark red.

Add the cumin, coriander, garam masala and turmeric, the amchur if using and the salt. Stir and taste, adding the chilli powder if you’d like more heat. Finally, add the mashed potato and cauliflower. Stir to mix and put the lid on, leaving it to cook for around 10 minutes, or until soft.

Taste and adjust any seasoning. Transfer to a bowl and use a potato masher or a fork to mash it. The consistency should be somewhere between mashed potato and thick pasta sauce – you can add some hot water to loosen the bhaji if need be. For a final flourish, add a generous knob of butter and stir it in.

Serve with halved and toasted bread rolls, generously spread with butter. Put a layer of pav bhaji in the middle of each roll, and top with a sprinkling of red onion, coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.