Recipes: Bombay Tawa Pulao

In Bombay or Mumbai, there are street stalls which sell Pav Bhaji and towards the end of the day, when the bhaji is almost over, they add some rice to the gravy and this is the origin of the Tawa Pulao. This rice works best with leftover rice, but can be made with fresh rice which has been cooled down. This makes a very good lunchbox recipe and if you cook the rice in advance, it’s a jiffy dish to make during the morning rush

Bombay Tawa Pulao


  • 1 cup Basmati rice which has be cooked and completely cooled. It’s best if you can make the rice a day earlier, but making it far ahead of time also works.
  • 1 carrot, chopped into bit sized pieces
  • 1 potato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2-3 tbsp frozen peas
  • 2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 pod garlic, peeled
  • 4-5 fresh red chillies (or green if you don’t have red chillies)
  • 2-3 tbsp pav bhaji masala
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tsp lemon juice (more or less as per taste)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (optional)


  • Blend the ginger, garlic and chillies into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • Wash the chopped carrots, potatoes and peas and keep aside.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and when the oil warms, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
  • Then add the turmeric powder and stir for a couple of seconds.
  • Now add the chopped and washed vegetables and a bit of salt and cook until the vegetables are almost cooked.
  • When the vegetables are almost cooked, remove the vegetables from the pan and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add the balance oil and butter and when the butter melts, add in the blended ginger-garlic-chilli paste.
  • Let the paste cook a bit and then add the finely chopped onions and let the onions become translucent. Then add the finely chopped tomatoes and let the tomatoes cook and become mushy and break down.
  • Now add the pav bhaji masala and chilli powder if you want it spicer and salt to taste and cook till the mixture becomes slightly thicker.
  • Then add the cooked vegetables and also check for seasoning.
  • Add in the cooked and cooled rice and gently toss the rice to mix it with the vegetables till the rice is completely coated with the vegetables and the onion-tomato gravy.
  • Check for seasoning, remove from the fire and drizzle 1-2 tsp of lemon juice. Then garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with a yoghurt raita.

The children and S loved it and asked me why I didn’t make it earlier for school. You can also substitute garam masala if you don’t have pav bhaji masala. The taste will still be fantastic, but will not taste like how it’s made in Bombay. You can also add more vegetables like french beans, cauliflower etc if you are planning to make a larger batch. Remember, in this recipe, a little goes a long way.

Want to know how I make Pav Bhaji? Here’s how I make it?

Try it and let me know how you liked it!

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