There is no other example of a Jugaad that became one of the best signature dishes of Mumbai and now India . I am not sure of its origin but observing any thelewala in Mumbai making Pav bhaji on a big pan on a stove , you can very well understand it is a Jugaad of all left overs that was mixed together and Tadka Marke was served with greasy pieces of bread . Popularized with the only brand of butter available in 80s and 90s - Amul Pav Bhaji was being sold at each nuke and corner of Mumbai in short time. Each suburb of Mumbai has its own Famous Restaurant known for a version of Pav Bhaji and for a typical Mumbaikar Shivsagar Pav Bhaji and the smoky environs of the Juhu restaurant interiors will always have a special place in heart.
The dish does have a special place in my children's lives too but it is , 'Mamma's' Pav Bhaji which is no where near to what you get in Mumbai or else where . Both children love any version that is made which over the period have seen all vegetables that are grown under and above the soil - all sorts of turnips, parsnips, pumpkins , beans and all the vegetables that otherwise do not find any willing place in a plate is rattled together in a big pan with lots of plum tomatoes and served with brown seeded bread . It helps me immensely on a busy day when all vegetables cooked in a pressure cooker and saute in onions and tomatoes with some masala will keep the lunch and dinner ready and children happy at all meal times. Needless to say it tastes different at each time and this is attributed to the changing bread rather than the large amount of turnip or pumpkin that Mamma wanted to get rid off from her fridge. This wonderful dish not only helps Mamma to utilise all vegetables but also all Masalas that otherwise sit on the shelf for years- typically coming from various friends . So at times Mamma's Pav Bhaji contains Madras Sambhar Masala and it times it will have dry Rosemary - you gift a Masala to mamma and it ends up in Pav Bhaji as her routine cooking will only entertain the masala that her Mumma or Mom in Law sends for her !
The atmosphere is very happy around for the past half an hour with the announcement of Pav Bhaji and all homework is completed within minutes with smiling face - thanks to the aroma in the room .
With all my parenting , I am always faced with this quintessential question- all these variations are fine at home but how will your kids fare in the larger society out in open there . With Pav bhaji this fear turned very true when Manu visited Mumbai few years ago and was treated by a friend in a well known Pav Bhaji Joint . The instant message to me was, 'uh it just some potatoish paste and I could not taste any real 'Bhaji' in it'. That's the answer perhaps - you don't have to accept what masses accept gleefully. One has to look at actual bhaji in the dish rather than gulp any mixture that is served with onion and tomato pieces in the name of Pav Bhaji :)