Pav-Bhaji, Misal-Pav, Masala-Pav, Vada-Pav and the ever so humble Maska-Pav with chai are an all time favorite. a person who has grown up in Bombay (now Mumbai) will easily identify with all these yummy delicacies.
After moving to the US, I tried and made these things at home - but, never got the Pav taste ever. The burger buns never did justice to the dishes. The closest to our Mumbai Ladi-Pav were the potato rolls and then the kaiser rolls.
Finally decided to bake this pav at home too.Tried tried and tried many variations and combinations and finally this was what made the cut for us. This recipe yielded the taste of home (Mumbai) ladi-pav and has been a favorite since. Street food of Mumbai became famous again in our small home in the US :)
3 1/2 cups of All purpose flour / Bread flour
more flour for dusting while kneading (I used up about 1/4 cup more for this)
2 tsp of dry active yeast
4 TBS of sugar
1/4 cup warm water
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
Some more to glaze the pavs before baking (About 8 tablespoons) - this is optional
1/2 tsp of salt
Add the sugar and yeast to warm water and stir well. Keep it aside in a warm place to proof the yeast - to get it frothy and active - this should take about 10 to 15 minutes. If the yeast does not froth, then discard this mixture and try again.
Melt the butter and add the 1/2 cup milk and 3/4 cup water (at room temperature) to it. To this add the yeast mixture and salt. Now add the flour, 1 cup at a time to this mixture to form a sticky dough.
Dust a clean surface with some generous amount of flour and knead the dough for about 10 minutes till it becomes soft and smooth. This is to get the gluten going to get those fluffy and soft pavs. You can use your electric mixer (like kitchenaid) to do this for you too.
Put this dough into a large bowl and grease the dough with oil. Cover with a plastic wrap or a clean towel and let it rise to double in warm and dry place for about an hour. Once the dough has doubled, punch it to remove all the extra air and knead it again very well. Divide the dough into 15 equal parts and roll each part into a smooth ball.
Grease a baking dish (I used a 9 X 13 cake dish) with oil and place these dough balls into the dish about 1/4 inch apart. Cover with a plastic wrap or clean towel and let them stand for about 1 hour for a second raise. Once the dough rises, you will see that the dough balls have doubled in size and are sticking to each other. Glaze the tops of these pavs with some milk that is brushed gently - this is to give it a nice shine. You can do this glaze with eggs too Or you could skip this glaze process.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the pavs for about 15 to 18 minutes. The top of the pavs should look a nice golden brown color.
Once done, let it cool on a wire rack and then pull it apart to get individual pavs. Relish with bhaji, vada, maska or just dip it in tea and enjoy the yummy softness.
To make Burn Pav - The hard on the outside but soft inside pav that we got at Irani Restaurants.
I had kept a bowl of water on the lower rack of the oven to create a steam - cranked the heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit - baked for about 12 minutes. And I got the hard top but soft inside 'Burn Pav' - a delicacy with yummm maska (butter)