Veggie Sloppy Joe Pau Bhaji

Veggie Sloppy Joe Pau Bhaji
This image courtesy of Jack Turkel

Editor's Note: Have you been looking for a recipe that's a vegetarian take on the beloved sloppy joe? Then this recipe for Veggie Sloppy Joe Pau Bhaji needs to be on your radar! This vegetarian recipe uses a generous assortment of vegetables, herbs, and spices, resulting in a hearty dish that can be served for lunch or dinner. Just place the pau bhaji on your choice of bread or rolls and serve with fresh-cut fruit or vegetables, and you're ready to eat! This flavorful dish is easy to make and will quickly become part of your rotation of weeknight meals for you and your family.

This is my take on the popular Indian street food, Pau Bhaji, that is sold in carts that dot the side of every alternate lane in the city of Mumbai. Even within the city, there are variations in the taste. I like to make the bhaji [filling] not so mashed up that I can’t see what I’m eating. This preparation style also provides a nice texture and leaves some crunch to the veggies.

In America, the closest parallel to this dish is the sloppy joe that is usually made with wet, seasoned minced meat spooned over a bun. The Indian sloppy joe uses a lot of butter to gives it its characteristic taste. You can use any vegetable for this recipe. In fact, feel free to also try out the various pau bhaji masalas that are now readily available in your Indian grocery. Add that to mashed veggies, place it between a burger bun or sandwich bread, and you can have a quick meal-to-go!


Cooking Time20 min

Cooking MethodSauteeing



Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationVegetarian

MealDinner, Lunch

Taste and TextureSavory, Spiced

Type of DishSandwich, Vegetable


  • 5 potatoes (about 2½ lbs/1kg)
  • 2 tomatoes (about 12oz/360 g) chopped
  • 1 cup (130 g) green peas, fresh or frozen (shelled from 1lb/500 g fresh pea pods or about half a 10 oz/300 g package of frozen peas
  • 3½ oz (100g) butter or ghee, plus extra 10 serve (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 onion (about 5 oz/150 g), chopped
  • 2 cups (200g) cauliflower florets
  • 1 teaspoon Asian red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Café Spice Garam Masala 
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • Butter or ghee, for brushing the rolls
  • 8 slider buns or mini potato rolls


  1. Combine the potatoes with enough cold water to cover, in a large saucepan. Bring it to a boil over high heat and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain well and set aside to cool. Peel the potatoes, return them to the pan and mash. Set aside.

  2. Make a small cross with a knife on the top of the tomatoes. In a large saucepan, boil enough water to cover the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and bring it to a boil, about 1-2 minutes and turn off the heat. Allow to stand for about 5 minutes. Drain and allow to cool slightly, then peel off the skins, Mash the pulp and set aside.

  3. If using fresh peas, cook them in a small saucepan with enough boiling water for 5-7 minutes or until soft.

  4. Heat a large, nonstick griddle pan or a skillet over medium heat and add the butter or ghee. Add the minced garlic and onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent for about 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat to high and add the tomato pulp, mashed potatoes, green peas, and cauliflower florets. Add the ground spices and salt and continue to stir and mash with a spatula or a potato masher until well combined. Cook for about 5 minutes. It is your choice how mashed you want the vegetables to be. Fold in the lime juice and coriander leaves.

  5. Prepare the buns or rolls before serving. Heat a flat griddle over medium heat. Melt the butter or ghee until the pan is coated. Place the buns or rolls and toast them until slightly brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes.

  6. Serve the buns or rolls hot alongside the mashed vegetables.


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