Misal Pav is the ultimate, mouthwatering Bombay street breakfast or snack food. The Misal, a spicy curry, and it's made with sprouted beans and is utterly healthy! Scoop up the misal with soft bread rolls, called pav, for a delicious and nourishing breakfast, snack, lunch, or dinner.
There's no way to actually describe a Misal to you other than to say, you must eat this. You must, you must, you must.
Misal is -- like most of Bombay's hallowed street foods -- an explosion of flavors and textures.
It's a spicy curry of sprouted beans topped with raw onions, boiled potatoes, crispy farsan (fried chickpea squiggles) and coriander leaves. Drizzle a few drops of lemon juice on all this goodness to add yet another flavor and tone down the heat (a bit), dunk in a crusty pav (an Indian-style roll), and you're about to eat what some Bombayites would argue is the best breakfast food ever.
Not that you have to have Misal for breakfast. For me, its spiciness and complexity -- not to mention its healthfulness when you're making it at home -- makes it a perfect teatime snack, or even a great dinner.
Misal Pav is an intrinsically healthy food -- c'mon, its main ingredient is bean sprouts -- but surviving on the rough and rowdy city streets meant it has had to go through some tasty but not always healthy metamorphoses.
The version of Misal Pav you'll find at food carts and restaurants in Bombay is usually too spicy and too oily. The roll of white bread slathered with butter is probably not going to get you any health points either.
For the far healthier (and less spicy) version I am serving up today, I kept the sprouts, potatoes and onions and got rid of all but 2 teaspoons of oil. Because you absolutely gotta have something crunchy to top the misal, I added a neat substitute I use anytime I want some crunch in my other favorite street foods like Bhel -- a handful of roasted sunflower seeds. I didn't have a chance to make pav -- you can find my Whole Wheat Laadi Pav recipe here -- so we just scooped up our Misal with crusty whole wheat French bread I had made earlier. It was, in one word, amazing.
Did I say you absolutely MUST eat it? Well, take it from me -- you must.
Looking for more Indian street food recipes?
Nothing washes down street food like Misal Pav as perfectly as a glass of piping hot masala chai or cutting chai.
Misal Pav Recipe
- 2 cups dry matki or moth beans. You can use mung beans instead. Soak and sprout the beans.
- 2 red onions, one sliced and the other finely chopped.
- 2 heaping tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 5 peppercorns
- An inch-long piece of cinnamon
- ½ cup grated coconut
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- ½ teaspoon cayenne or paprika for less heat
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup finely chopped coriander leaves
- 3 potatoes, boiled, peeled and chopped fine
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 2 lemons or limes, cut into fourths or sliced
- Laadi pav bread rolls
- Vegan butter
- Heat the oil. Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns. Saute for a minute or two until the coriander is slightly darker and fragrant. Then the sliced onions and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to saute.
- When the onions are beginning to get brown spots, remove the onions and spices to a blender.
- Add the coconut to the dry skillet and roast over a low heat until it starts to turn lightly golden. Add to the blender along with the tomatoes.
- Add enough water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat the other teaspoon of oil.
- Add the finely chopped onion and saute until it starts to brown. Add the turmeric and cayenne or paprika. Give everything a good stir.
- Add the ground masala and bring it to a boil. Let the masala cook five minutes on a simmer.
- Add the sprouts and stir them in.
- When the curry comes to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the beans are fully cooked but not mushy. Add salt to taste.
- Turn off the heat and serve hot with the toppings, sliced or quartered lemons on the side, and vegan-buttered bread.
- Nutrition information is for the misal curry only.
I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious! I am wondering for next time, though, when/if you add extra water to the mix?
After adding the sprouts to the masala, I realized there had to be some simmering liquid and simply sort of eyeballed it and added what looked like the right amount. Do you add extra water to the sprouts for the simmering and if so, how much?
Again, thank you!! A delicious result. 🙂
So happy you enjoyed it!
I finally got around to making sisal... Ordinarilly, when a recipe calls for cinnamon, I leave it out because I do not like the sweet cloving taste. I just found out that Indian cinnamon is not the same as the cinnamon we use here.... An Indian friend gave me a container of what she uses... and it was really much more appropriate for the spacey flavors of Misal....
I am soaking the mung beans currently and am looking forward to making this amazing dish. Thank you!
Great, Diana, hope you like it! 🙂
It was AMAZING!!! Can't wait to make again and share with fellow 'high vibe' food lovers 😉
Thank you Vaishali for a very easy, healthy and tasty recipe. I tried it today and loved the taste and the entire house is filled with the aroma of the masala.
Hi Lakshmi, so glad you tried it! Misal's one of my favorite foods, as you could probably tell from the post. 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!
Awesome recipe !! I have tried a couple of your recipes and they all turn out to be my new favorites. Thanks for sharing them all. My house is filled with the aroma of roasted spices and coconut 🙂
Hi Sanaya, so happy you liked it. And thanks for your kind words! 🙂
I heart Misal. I first ate it as a teen when I went to Pune 15+ years back and I've been hooked ever since. My cousin took me a very nondescript little place and assured me I was in for a real treat. It was all that and more. I make misal at least twice a month. In fact, I beg/borrow Goda masala only for this (oh well, for masala bhat too!). So glad you featured it on your blog 🙂 Also, can you put up a recipe for Amti? I've tried making it at home but it just doesn't seem to taste like the one I had all those years back. TIA.
Hi Tia, Pune's great for misal, isn't it? One of my favorite cities in the world-- I spent a magical year there once. I will definitely work on a post for Amti. Stay tuned. 🙂
One thing missing from the recipe is what do you do with the tomatoes?! We're just going to throw them in with the sprouts and let them simmer for the last 20-30 minutes. How bad could it be?
Hi Brian, add them to the blender with the onions etc. I will add this to the recipe.
Quick note, I still don't see the tomatoes in the instructions. I did a search on this page to check if anyone had asked about it and found this.
I made the misal for dinner tonight. It is very delicious. We ate it with toasted buns.
Fareeda, that's lovely! So glad you tried it, and thanks for letting me know. 🙂
Wat a delicious,droolworthy and mouthwatering dish, seriously hard to resist.
This is a must for me! We have a restaurant in Atlanta that purports to sell Indian street food, but it's more stuff like fried okra (without any complex spices). Talk about healthy (sprouted beans, turmeric, tomatoes, onions).
And yes for the sunflower seeds! A nice crunch and probably healthier than the chickpea squiggles that are fried,
True confession: whenever I have seen the buns at Indian restaurants I've always been indignant: "Why is an authentic restaurant using American hamburger buns?!?" But now thanks to your post I have learned it is pav....so I will save my indignation for something else (like crazy drivers!).
Hi Ellen, that restaurant sounds like a sad excuse for Indian street food! Fried okra indeed. And yes, pav are rather like hamburger buns, but it tastes best and most authentic when it's homemade. 🙂 While breads like pav are definitely a western introduction into the Indian foodscape, it's amazing how effortlessly locals have assimilated them into traditional dishes, making them -- now-- very much an Indian food.
Another wonderful-looking recipe! This is my kind of "street" food!
Thanks, Mary. 🙂
Deb @ Saving the Crumbs
Wow, that looks so yummy! I LOVE Indian food! Must also be very healthy and have a lot of fiber. What a great combination.
Hi Deb, it definitely has a lot of fiber-- and protein.
Janel @ Creating Tasty Stories
I love trying street food from around the world. The recipes are always tasty and usually pretty easy to cook. I've never heard of misal, but I want to try it! Thanks for introducing me to it.
Hi Janel, I love street food too! It's always the most delicious and perhaps the fact that, when one travels, everyone warns you against it makes it taste a little more delicious as well! (like forbidden fruit). 🙂