Bombay Sloppy Joes are sure to be the best homemade sloppy joe recipe you’ll ever make. Garam Masala and whole cumin seeds kick it up and toasted pistachios and raisins are insane! Like Manwich on crack. Use ground beef, turkey, or plant-based meat crumbles for a tasty vegan option.
When I first saw a recipe for Bombay Sloppy Joes, I was intrigued because most homemade sloppy joe recipes I’ve tried are a little boring and honestly don’t really improve on plain ol’ Manwich canned mix. But these sloppy joes… these Indian, homemade Sloppy Joes are something really special that adults and kids will love. The original recipe calls for added honey and cream, but I found the end result to be too sweet, so I’ve experimented several times with the original until I decided on the version I’m sharing with you today.
Enough like regular Sloppy Joes to recognize it is a “Joe”, but this homemade, unique recipe adds garam masala, paprika and whole cumin seeds in an incredible sauce featuring a trinity of garlic, fresh ginger and Serrano peppers. This is really something different, especially since Bombay Sloppy Joes finish off with toasted pistachios and plumped up raisins tossed in before serving.
The recipe will give you step-by-step instructions, but I want to share pictures of some of the steps so you can see how incredible these flavors are going to taste:
The combination of fresh garlic, ginger and a half of a Serrano chili pepper creates a warm base for the sauce, especially with the addition of the garam masala and paprika. And the plumped raisins and toasted pistachios add delicious texture and sweetness that take this recipe to the next level.
Ingredients in Bombay Sloppy Joes-
Garam Masala- With hints of cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns, Garam Masala is a seasoning that can be used in any type of Sloppy Joe for that classic flavor.
Paprika- Mildly sweet and peppery, paprika enhances the sauce in Sloppy Joe recipes
Garlic and ginger- The perfect combination for any Sloppy Joe recipe.
Raisins- When sautéed, raisins plump up and increase in flavor. A great sweet flavor and nice texture in this recipe.
Pistachios- A nice little bit of crunch that’s perfect and pretty in Bombay Sloppy Joes.
This. Sauce! After the garlic, ginger, pepper, garam masala and paprika are heated and slightly browned in olive oil, add tomato sauce and water so you can simmer down and thicken everything together (only takes about 15 minutes).
It wouldn’t be a Sloppy Joe recipe without red bell pepper and onions. But for a Bombay Sloppy Joe you need a little whole cumin to spice things up and another Serrano pepper takes a bath in the mix to release a little more flavor, not heat. If you want heat, then chop up the pepper at the end and add it back into the mixture.
As an Indian-inspired dish the original uses ground turkey and I’ve had success with that, but I seem to make it with beef more often for my guys and they love it. Note: I’ve also made Bombay Sloppy Joes with soy crumbles for a vegan option and this was pretty darn good as well.
Just before serving, I toast soft Brioche buns, adding a little olive oil and extra whole cumin seeds to the top (Also delicious with whole wheat buns or Rye toast). Red onions add a fresh crunch and sweetness, not to mention pretty color. My husband prefers his without a bun so he gets it on top of a bed of lettuce and it’s fabulous.
Bombay Sloppy Joes just might become your new go-to homemade sloppy joe recipe. If you’re hosting an informal party, serve these Joes and you’re sure to be applauded for your originality- be ready to share the recipe. You can make the sauce a day ahead and actually the full recipe is even more flavorful on the day after completion.
Unique but still familiar, enjoy this recipe… and don’t skip the raisins and pistachios. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Bombay Sloppy Joes
For the Sauce:
For the Sloppy Joes:
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup shelled pistachios
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 Serrano chile pepper don't chop it unless you want it really spicy!
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1 pound ground beef, may use turkey or plant-based "meat"
- Small handful fresh cilantro
Make the sauce:
- Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 Tablespoon ginger, 2 cloves garlic and a Serrano pepper and cook about 1 minute. stirring consistently while ginger and garlic lightly brown. Add 1 teaspoon garam masala and ½ teaspoon paprika and cook 30 seconds. Add 15 ounces tomato sauce and 1 cup water, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered 15 minutes.
Prepare the sloppy joes:
- Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ¼ cup raisins and ¼ cup pistachios and cook, stirring occasionally, until the raisins swell up and the pistachios toast slightly, about 1 minute. Remove raisins and pistachios to a small plate and set aside for now.
- Using medium heat again, add the remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Add 1 teaspoons cumin seeds and let sizzle about 10 seconds, then add the finely chopped onion and finely chopped red bell pepper and cook until softened and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the Serrano pepper and cook 2 more minutes, adding the teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the meat, breaking up the big lumps, and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the prepared sauce to the meat and onion mixture in the skillet. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cook uncovered until the sauce reduces and thickens, about 12-15 minutes.
- You may serve the Sloppy Joes at this point, but after the sauce has thickened, I like to add about 3 tablespoons of water back in (just a good splash), then put a lid on the Sloppy Joe mixture, leave on low heat with the Serrano pepper still in the mix, and let cook another 10-20 minutes longer. This only enhances and deepens all the flavors.
- Remove the Serrano pepper. Stir in the raisins and pistachios. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the cilantro right before serving.
- Toast buns or rye bread and fill with the Sloppy Joe mixture.
- I like to use my mini food processor to chop the onion and red bell pepper. Chop to minced size pieces, but don't puree. I mince the garlic and ginger by hand.
- Our favorite way to serve these Sloppy Joes is on soft, toasted Brioche buns. No condiments are necessary, but you may like some red onion slices for some extra crunch and sweet onion flavor.
Recipe adapted from Aarti Sequeira for Food Network Magazine.