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Misal Pav, Maharashtrian Bean Sprout Curry

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Misal pav on a plate with farsan and onion.

It’s almost impossible for me to pick my favorite Indian recipe, but if I had to, there’s really only one contender: misal pav. This Maharashtrian dish is everything I love about Indian food — punchy spice layered with tangy, citrusy flavor notes, earthy spices, and hints of subtle sweetness. It’s so moreish I have to stop myself from eating … and eating … and eating! 

But, what is misal pav? Originating in Maharashtra, this Marathi recipe is iconic and beloved by millions nationwide. Misal is a wholesome and versatile dish made from crunchy sprouted beans cooked in a sauce enriched with aromatic roasted coconut, lemony curry leaves, sweet onions, tangy tomatoes, and layers upon layers of complex spicing. The dish isn’t complete without soft and fluffy bread rolls known as pav, also essential for other infamous Maharashtrian street foods, pav bhaji, and vada pav. The buttery bread helps soak up the vibrant, fiery curry in a way that a naan can’t quite replicate. After all, as they say, there’s no misal without pav! 

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to find this iconic fare outside India — but don’t worry, this recipe is eons better than anything you’d eat in a restaurant. Trust me, it’s my favorite for a reason! 

Okay, let’s dive in and cover some cooking tips, variations, and, of course, the recipe!

Misal pav on a steel plate, topped with farsan and coriander.

What is Misal Pav?

Misal pav is essentially a bean sprout curry. 

However, unlike the beansprouts you use in Chinese recipes, these are made from moth beans alongside moong beans. We usually grow the bean sprouts at home as they aren’t sold locally. These sprouts are cooked in a rich, unctuous, spicy gravy packed with different ingredients, and the whole thing is paired with soft, buttery bread rolls known as pav. 

What is the Difference Between Misal Pav and Usal Pav?

You might wonder: What’s the difference between misal pav, the famous Mumbai street food, and usal, a popular Maharashtrian breakfast? 

Well, while misal pav boasts a thin, spicy gravy packed with ingredients, in comparison, usal is more homely. Usal is usually made dry (with no sauce) and is much milder in flavor. It can be made with bean sprouts, but popular variations like vatana (white pea) and chawali usal (black beans) are just as widespread. This recipe, on the other hand, is only made with bean sprouts. 

A steel plate with Maharashtrian misal pav, lemon slices, farsan, and kanda.

When was Misal Pav Invented?

Mysteriously, this recipe has an uncertain history, and nobody can agree when the dish first became a mainstay in Maharashtrian kitchens. Some people claim it has a history dating back to the 17th century, but one thing is for sure — there are restaurants in Maharashtra serving the dish for over a hundred years, so it’s at least that old. 

The dish likely evolved from a similar dish, usal. Like many Marathi street foods, such as vada pav and pav bhaji, it was likely created as a nourishing and robust lunch for workers, then over time became a fixture of Maharashtrian cuisine. 

Who Invented Misal Pav

Nobody knows who invented this iconic Marathi recipe. Many restaurants lay claim to being the “original,” but this culinary fact has likely been lost to time!

Where is Misal Pav From

Misal pav has its roots in Maharashtra, India, particularly in the western region. Its exact birthplace remains a subject of debate: some sources attribute its creation to the Khandeshi border or the city of Nashik, while others insist Pune was the first to conceive the famous dish.

Regardless, each major city of Maharashtra has a unique way of preparing the legendary dish. For example:

  • Kolhapuri misal isn’t made with goda masala. Instead, it uses a distinctive blend of dried nuts and spices called kolhapuri masala, which offers a sweet, smoky, and earthy taste. You can enjoy it with pav or simple white bread, and it often comes garnished with grated coconut.
  • Puneri misal pav is perhaps the most common variety, with the classic balance of spicy, sweet, and sour seasoning. It’s usually less fiery than other types. 
  • Nagpuri misal pav from east Maharashtra is typically spicy, as per the tastes of the Vidarbha region. Sometimes, local cooks mix kande pohe into layers of sprouts and gravy.
  • Nashik misal is typically darker in color than other types, with an unusual peppery heat. Uniquely, people generally serve the dish with fried papad (poppadoms). 
  • Khandeshi misal is fiery hot and boasts a bright red tarri gravy. Unlike other local varieties, khandeshi misal involves a burnt black masala (kala masala), made by whole roasting dried coconut and onions, which infuses a tantalizing smoky aroma to the plate. 

I blend the best parts from various regional variations in this easy misal pav recipe, creating a simple yet delicious meal packed with authentic, intricate flavors. I can’t wait for you to try it! 

Misal pav on a plate with a torn-off piece of bread.

Misal Pav Ingredients

Though the list of ingredients might seem overwhelming, every element plays a crucial role in crafting the impressive and irresistibly flavorful layers found in street-style misal. Scroll down to the recipe card for complete ingredient quantities and cooking instructions.

  • Moth bean sprouts, called matki in Marathi, are sprouted legumes with a slightly crunchy texture and a beautifully sweet, nutty flavor. They form the basis of this recipe. 
  • Moong bean sprouts are optional, but I like using two varieties of sprouts. They are earthier and creamier than moth beansprouts. 
  • Potatoes are another optional addition to this Maharashtrian misal pav, but they bulk up the meal nicely. 
  • Red onion is made into a paste, adding thickness to the misal curry and providing a gentle sweetness. 
  • Tomato is blended into a paste, adding subtle tangy and sour notes to the dish. 
  • Dry coconut is dry roasted, providing a tempting aroma to the curry, building on the sweet and nutty elements.
  • Oil is a flavor carrier and an essential element of the “tari” (or the spicy, oily layer). 
  • Mustard seeds add punchy heat. 
  • Cumin seeds complement the warm, earthy flavor notes of the bean sprouts. 
  • Curry leaves add a fresh, citrusy taste essential for hotel-style misal pav. Don’t skip this ingredient! 
  • Ginger-garlic paste provides a gentle creaminess and slight punchiness. I love using homemade ginger-garlic paste for the best results. 
  • Spice powders like red chili, coriander, and turmeric each deliver their unique savory profiles, building complex layers of flavoring.
  • Lemon juice balances out misal pav’s intensely spicy characteristic taste and adds a distinctive acidity. 
  • Goda masala is a traditional Marathi spice blend that is equal parts sweet and spicy. The complex flavors it delivers are unmissable; it’s a must-have, but if you don’t have access to it, swap it out for garam masala. 
  • Fresh coriander finishes the plate with a burst of bright freshness. 

Is This Recipe Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free?

This meal is suitable for most people with food intolerances or dietary requirements! Specifically, it’s vegetarian, nut-free, and soy-free, which makes it an ideal meal for dinner parties and big gatherings. I love making a massive pot of misal to share!

Misal is inherently vegan and gluten-free, whereas the accompanying pav (bread rolls) typically aren’t. However, bear in mind that gluten-free and vegan bread rolls should be readily available to buy. Alternatively, you can pair misal with any bread of your preference.

To make misal pav without onion and garlic, skip the ginger-garlic paste in this recipe. With one tiny adaptation, you have an easy Jain misal pav recipe.

Indian pav with butter.

How to Make Misal Pav

Here’s an overview of “misal pav banane ki vidhi,” or the process of making this Maharashtrian dish! For detailed instructions and ingredient quantities, please scroll down to the recipe card.

  1. Sprout the beans over a few days, 
  2. Cook the beansprouts and potato with turmeric powder until softened.
  3. Make a paste of roasted dry coconut, tomato, and onions. 
  4. Cook the tarri/kat by frying off the whole spices, curry leaves, homemade ginger-garlic paste, the prepared tomato-onion-coconut paste, and ground spices until the oil separates. 
  5. Cook the misal by adding the beansprouts, potatoes, and water to the pan and simmer gently until the spicy oil (kat) rises to the top.
  6. Layer the misal with farsan (crispy mixture), kanda poha (optional), plus finely chopped onion, tomato, and coriander.
  7. Heat the pav in butter. I prefer my pav gloriously crispy on top with a soft inside, but alternatively, you can heat the bread through without crisping if you wish. 

What to Serve with this Recipe

What do you eat with misal? At a minimum, this legendary food is always served with extra wedges of lemon, chopped onion, coriander, and tomato to add to your plate to taste, crunchy farsan/chivda, and buttery pav. You can buy specialist misal pav farsan expressly for the dish or use your favorite mixture.

Some restaurants and street-side vendors also offer a plate of kat/tari/rassa alongside the serving plate — essentially the thin, spicy, oily layer of the gravy. You can then add it to your curry to increase the spice. If you want to recreate this at home, carefully spoon off the top layer of the misal before serving and add it to a separate bowl. 

Here are some more scrumptious serving ideas:

  • Misal pav and sabudana vada is a common combination in Mumbai and makes for an exceptionally hearty breakfast or lunch. If you want to give it a go, follow my upvas special sabudana vada recipe alongside this one! 
  • Misal with pohe is the go-to option for many in eastern Maharashtra, and for good reason. Check out my kanda poha recipe and add a layer of the flattened rice under the misal.  
  • Misal pav with dahi/yogurt is my first recommendation for anyone with a low spice tolerance. It cools the fiery nature of the misal tarri. 
  • Misal pav with papad adds a nice crunchy texture to the plate. Fry or microwave any urad dal poppadoms and serve alongside. 
Marathi misal on a spoon.

Is Misal Pav Healthy?

Perhaps surprisingly, Maharashtrian misal pav is rich in many essential nutrients. For example, sprouted moth and moong beans are high in protein and offer copious amounts of healthy fibers, folates, and iron, amongst other vital vitamins. That’s not to mention the spices, which have numerous health benefits!

However, this dish is notoriously heavy on oil — a vital component of the “tarri” or “kat,” the vibrant red spicy oil formed on top of the dish. To make your food healthier, you should decrease the oil used, but you may forgo that classic street-style taste.

Is Misal Pav Spicy?

Yes! Misal pav is notoriously spicy, and trying the dish is a requisite for anyone who loves fiery, piquant foods.

However, spice levels of the dish vary across Maharashtra, not to mention certain restaurants and families will make the dish with varying levels of chili. Not all interpretations of the dish are mind-numbing spicy!

In fact, this recipe is perfectly seasoned. With three teaspoons of chili powder, it’s got a kick — this makes it not quite as hot as some Indian joints, but ideally spiced for the average reader. Furthermore, if you’re not used to eating spicy food, you can adjust the chili levels and slowly build it up. Alternatively, you can add more!

Maharashtrian Kolhapuri Misal pav on a steel plate.

This Recipe Is …

  • Authentically flavored
  • Heavily spiced, fiery, and hot
  • Vegetarian, nut-free, and soy-free!
  • Easily adaptable to be vegan and gluten-free
  • Protein-packed
  • Easy to make
Misal pav on a plate with farsan and onion.

Kolhapuri Misal Pav - Healthy Mixed Sprout Curry

Yield: 4
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This misal pav recipe is authentically Maharashtrian: Crunchy bean sprouts cooked in a spicy, vibrant, and hearty tarri paired with a soft pav.

Ingredients

To Cook the Sprouts:

  • 120g Moong & Moth Bean Sprouts* 
  • 80g Potato cubed (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 550ml Water

To make a Paste:

  • 60g Red Onion, roughly chopped 
  • 100g Fresh Tomato, roughly chopped 
  • 2 tbsp Desiccated Coconut (or Dry coconut)

For the Curry:

  • 2.5 tbsp Neutral Oil**
  • 1/2 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 6 Fresh Curry leaves
  • 2 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • 1.5 tsp Red Chili Powder
  • 1.5 tsp Deggi Mirch or Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt, or to taste 
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice 
  • 2 tsp Goda Masala or 1 tsp Garam Masala 
  • 100ml Water

To Serve

  • Red Onion, finely chopped
  • Fresh Tomato, finely chopped
  • Farsan / Chivda
  • Fresh Coriander, finely chopped
  • 8 Vegan Pav (Bread Rolls), buttered and heated

Instructions

  1. Cook the bean sprouts and potato with turmeric powder until softened. Pressure cook for 2 whistles or boil in a deep saucepan for around 20 minutes.
  2. Make a paste. Dry roast the coconut on a tawa or frying pan until it's golden and aromatic. Cool the coconut, then blend it with tomato and onions to make a paste. Set aside.
  3. Cook the tarri/kat. Heat neutral oil in a large kadai and once hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they pop, add the curry leaves (be careful, as they may spit), and homemade ginger-garlic paste. Saute for around 30 seconds, then add the prepared tomato-onion-coconut paste and ground spices. Cook, stirring consistently, until the oil separates. 
  4. Cook the misal. Add the beansprouts, potatoes, their cooking water, and an additional 100ml water to the kadai/pan. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the tarri/kat (spicy oil) rises to the top. At this stage, season with salt to taste, lemon juice, and goda masala. Turn off the heat.
  5. Layer the misal by adding farsan (crispy mixture) on top, kanda poha (optional), plus finely chopped onion, tomato, and coriander.
  6. Heat the pav in butter. Slice them in half and fry gently in butter over low heat. If you want them slightly crispy, press on the bread. Serve alongside the misal.

Serve the misal with extra lemon wedges, chopped onion, tomato, coriander, and farsan for people to add to their plates as they desire.

Notes

* If you prefer, you can exclusively use moth bean sprouts. Please see my article, "How to Grow, store, and cook beansprouts" for more information.

** This is the minimum amount of oil you should use. Misal pav is traditionally an oily curry, and some of the spicy oil (tarri/kat) is skimmed off before serving. If you want to do this, I suggest adding at least 1 tbsp extra.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 199Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 700mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 5g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below or tag me in your photos on Instagram!

Misal pav is famous in which state?

Although it can be found across India, misal pav is most famous in Maharashtra, the state of its origin.

Misal pav and pav bhaji difference (misal pav vs pav bhaji)

Misal pav and pav bhaji are iconic Mumbai street foods and a vital component of Maharashtrian cuisine. While misal pav is made from a curry of sprouted beans, pav bhaji has a spicy mashed vegetable gravy instead. Both are served with pav (bread rolls).

How to make misal pav like hotel

This recipe is the best way to make hotel-style misal pav. It has all the flavors you know and love!

How many calories does misal pav have?

All recipes vary, but Oh My Veg misal pav has around 199 calories per serving. Note that nutritional information isn’t always accurate.

Can you make misal pav with moong sprouts?

Yes! The most authentic misal would be made with either exclusively moth bean sprouts or a mixture of moth and moong bean sprouts, but if you don’t have access to the former, you can make a truly delicious misal pav using just moong sprouts.

Can you make misal pav without onion and garlic?

You can make misal pav without onion and garlic. Follow the Oh My Veg misal pav recipe and omit the 2 tsp of homemade ginger-garlic paste. Instead, you can add a pinch of hing (asafoetida) to replace the characteristic flavor.

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