The undisputed capital of Indian street food is Mumbai . It is not that the other regions do not have their own varieties , but Mumbai managed to break off the economic, class, and religious barriers and serve up the most fabulous and pocket friendly quick eats . Among the road side snacks you will find these soft buns served with a mix of vegetables , or a fried patty . These soft buns called Ladi Pav have their own fan following . It will be hard pressed to find new age Indian cook who hasn’t served “pav” in some form .
The hustle and bustle of the busy Indian streets are aptly captured in Pav Baji – the soft bun mopping up a spice are made with bleached white flour (maida) and laden with dough conditioners and additives but they are very soft and spongy.
When making these buns at home , I use a combination of flours – usually white whole wheat and unbleached all purpose or bread flour . The sponginess of the buns vary depending on the ratio of the flours . 100 % All purpose flour makes the spongiest of them all. As always go for the best available non chemically treated version , preferably organic .
- Windowpane test – Take a small piece of dough , lime sized , hold it between the thumbs and fingers of both hands . Stretch it uniformly in all directions If the dough stretches to a thin film , hold the film against a source of light . If the light filters through it like a window pane , the dough has passed the test . No more kneading is necessary . If that is not the case , then knead a few more minutes and repeat the test .
- If you want the tops of the buns more brown then keep he pan under the broiler for a minute or so . The intense heat will brown the tops nicely . Do not leave the buns unattended though , it takes only a few seconds to go from warm brown to raven black .
- To further improve the sponginess , keep a metal pan in the lower rack of the oven while preheating . After the buns are placed , put a handful of ice chips or about a cup of water in the pan . This introduces steam during the initial stages of baking allowing the crust to stay softer and expand more . Again exercise caution . Keep yourself safe from sudden spurt of steam , and the ice chips from falling on any surfaces of the oven that is not equipped to handle the sudden drop in temperature .
- My preferred flour for this recipe is unbleached bread flour , but good quality all purpose flour gives excellent results s well . For a vegan version , substitute milk with water or the preferred non diary milk , and butter with coconut oil .
- Flour - 360 gm 3 C
- Milk -240 gm 1C
- Water - 1/4 C
- Salt - 6 gm 1 Tsp
- Yeast - 1 1/4 Tsp
- Sugar - 1 tsp
- Butter - 4 Tbsp
- Heat milk till it is hot to touch around 130°F or around 50°C. Take the flour in a large bowl. Add the salt and mix well .
- Make a well in the center and pour the milk in it . Using a wooden spoon stir some flour into it to form a thick gelatinous mass. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter on top . Set aside and wait for the mix to cool - about 15 - 20 minutes.
- In the meantime Activate the yeast . Warm water to 110°F or just warm to touch . Stir in the sugar , and sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside .
- Add the yeast water to the cooled mixture and knead for 10 to 15 minutes till the dough becomes soft smooth and very pliable . If very sticky add a couple of tablespoons of extra flour . Form the dough into a ball , cover and set aside to double in a warm place, about 1 hour .
- Punch down the dough , knead a few times . Divide into 12 equal portions . Form each portion into a ball.
- Arrange the balls on a baking sheet, cover and let rise for 30 minutes, until it has almost doubled .
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the buns in the middle rack . Reduce temperature to 375°F and bake for 10 minutes . Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes till done
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.