Food Recipies

Intervening Histories of Pav Bhaji and Misal Pav.

Pav Bhaaji is truly the food for all.

Pav Bhaji vs Misal Pav

In this post we will dip into the history of Bhaji Pav (as it is famously known in Maharashtra) or Pav Bhaji and Misal Pav(Lesser Known friend of Pav Bhaji).


History has been kinder to Pav Bhaji than Misal pav. One reached the heights of fame & name, both nationally as well as globally (obviously its Pav Bhaji). On the other hand, the Misal Pav did lay low and didn’t reach far but, penetrated deep in the houses and daily lives of Maharashtra. On one hand Bhaji has too many variations added to its native self-whereas the Misal became a traditional name in every household in Maharashtra and stayed true to its recipe (More or less).

Misal in a pot
Oh Yummy! The smell of Misal’s masala has filled the air.

All the information on this blog is a borrowed wisdom from a Parsi dada (who is my Nana’s friend) and my own Grandfather. Both of them were there when the newly independent India had crowned the state called Bombay (This state was later was divided into 2 states Gujarat and Maharashtra). My grandfather was a teacher back in those days and the Parsi Dada was a mill Staff.

It is a journey of food.
One of the yummiest places in Ahmedabad to eat Pav Bhaji.

The Two Wise Men

My grandfather’s view showed me the distinct distinction of class. At one spectrum was the newly emerging middle class, the strugglers, the new generation of modern Mumbai, this were the Pav Bhaji loving crowd (who tried the expensive option opposed to Chana-chur or Shelled Roasted Peanuts sing dana). At the other end was Misal Pav(Lovers), who were the migrants who moved to Bombay due lack of work/food/refugees/caste based problems (or anyone who wanted a better life) who hardly had any money to survive on the stock to the option that did feed them and well and as well as did cost a fraction of its richer cousin the Bhaji Pav.

Best friends food. Pav Bhaji
There is no where in the world where these two things go hand in hand with each other.                                                                         Pav Bhaji and AMUL butter.

The Parsi dada gave a completely different outlook. He said that even before he was born of-of these dishes did exist (He himself is 88 years old and yet young at heart man and was born in Mumbai). According to him, the Bhaji Pav was born near the mill gates at Tardeo. The workers preferred their tiffins or nearby vendors for Roti sabzi and or Dal Chawal during the afternoon’s meals, but during the night shifts, the workers had to work for late night shift they had this unique food that the vendor mixed matched and provided them. At this point in the history, the Bhaji Pav was still in its nascent and raw form as we know today, As Pav was easily available and all the unsold sabzi from the vegetable market came was mashed and cooked together in a single pot and was served with a toasted Pav.

Further Down the Line

On the other hand, the Misal Pav was the food of the docks. Anyone who worked at the docks was either unfortunate and or a refugee. They had the situation that meets the accurate definition of hand to mouth. As people were forced to eat water and Pav initially, slowly and the spices were added to the saline water(which still is there the fiery red water),  then various sprouts were added and as the worker’s condition got better the mixture(a mix of fried besan aka gram flour noodles + corn flakes + peanuts) was added to make it crunchy. Thus the Misal Pav was born out of needs of the poor.

A place where masala creates the magic of common Misal.
A common Misal Pav’ masala station.

Both of these men (My dada and Parsi Dada) did agree well on one fact, that in and around late 1960’s that the Bhaji Pav that we know today was born. The recipe started getting more and more consistent and started taking shape as we know today. The use of fresh vegetable showcasing became a norm, the potato became the base and the faithful partner’s capsicum, tomato and cabbage(and much more as you like) joined them on a tawa(which was unusual). The predominant use of tawa ensured quicker cooking and avoided overcooking(as it can happen on a kadhai).

Yummy Misal with unsalted Bun.
I am already sluurping on this served dish of Misal Pav.

As the dairy production reached its peak so did the butter fried pav and extra butter on the Bhaji arrived. Then as per experiments were done by chefs around Mumbai one devour Cheese Pav Bhaji, chum chum(not a Bengali sweet dish), Khada Bhaji and much more (as I’m a non-Mumbaikar I can’t say any more names). This made the Pav Bhaji more renowned name in every household in the nation(And now around the Globe). On the other hand, every district in Maharashtra can definitely tell us the variation the brought to Misal Pav,  the biggest variation was brought at Baroda which they like to call Ussal Pav(Not even close to misal as per my Marathi friend Akash More).

Pav Bhaaji is truly the food for all.
A Beautiful Platter of Pav Bhaji served at Bombay Street @ Ahmedabad

Un-concluded Conclusion

I can’t say the exact year in the history when these two originated but as per many blogs and Wikipedia(which I’m a usually a skeptic) says these two arrived around mid 19th century(few blogs claim the exact years 1850 ). As there is a lack of historical evidence or I couldn’t dig deep enough( cause I don’t know anyone older that 88 years).

Wish to get your opinion which one would you Prefer of the two Misal Pav or Pav Bhaji and your favorite location.

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