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Sarson Ka Saag (Spicy Mustard Greens Vegetable)

Sarson or mustard greens have a strong bitter, spicy flavor that is distinctive and makes it so special. They are low in calories and high in nutrients including many health-boosting antioxidants like flavonoids, beta carotene, lutein, and vitamins C and E that fight free radicals (unstable molecules) that can damage your cells. It is for this reason that sarson leaves can protect your skin and lower risk factors of diabetes. Both raw and cooked mustard greens are a phenomenal source of vitamin K, which is best known for its vital role in helping with blood clotting. It’s also been shown to be essential for heart and bone health. The greens are also a great source of several B vitamins, including thiamine (B1,) niacin (B3,) and pyridoxine (B6.)

Sarson ka saag or Sarson Da Saag as it is known in Punjab, is a winter staple in North India. Traditionally it was made only with ginger, but many use garlic as well these days. You will find a special recipe of this popular dish in each house with slight variations that make it a special of that home. The recipe is usually passed down in this manner from generation to generation. It’s usually served with makkai ki roti, a flatbread made with maize flour.

Recipe credit: Darshana Muzumdar

Serves 4 people as a part of an Indian meal.

Ingredients:

500 gms (1 bunch) mustard greens

250-350 gms (1 small bunch) spinach,

250-300 gms (1 bunch) bathua (chenopodium)

2 medium onions, chopped

7-8 garlic cloves, chopped

1 inch piece ginger, chopped

3-5 green chilies, or to taste, chopped fine

1 tsp jeera

2 medium tomatoes chopped (optional)

3 tsp maize flour (Do not use corn starch. Use besan/chickpea flour if you don’t have maize flour.)

2 tbsp groundnut oil

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Method

Clean, wash and chop the greens. Put the chopped greens in a pressure cooker. Add ½ cup of water, and pressure cook for 1-2 whistles. Cool the cooker, remove the whistle and open the pot. Add half of the chopped garlic, ginger and chillies to the cooked leaves and gently mash with a potato masher, cover with a lid and cook on a very low flame for five minutes. Traditionally, the leafy vegetables are churned with a wooden churner. Remove the cover and mash the mixture once again. Repeat till the mixture is mashed well. This may take up to 30 minutes. Add a little hot water if necessary. Avoid adding cold water as it prevents the vegetables from getting mashed well. Add the corn flour (not corn starch)/besan and 3-4 tablespoons of hot water. Mash well till all the maize flour is blended in the vegetable mix uniformly. In another pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil, add the jeera and sauté it till it is lightly brown. Add the rest of the chopped ginger and garlic, chopped onion and green chillies and fry till slightly golden brown. Add the chopped tomatoes if using, and salt. Cover and cook the mixture till the tomatoes are soft and cooked well and blended with the rest of the mixture. Add a little water if required to prevent the mixture from burning. Add the cooked vegetables into this and mix well. Empty the mixture into a serving bowl. This dish is usually served with Makai ki Roti (maize flour flat bread)

For the whole food plant based (WFPB) version:

Do not use oil. Heat an iron tempering ladle and add the jeera. Roast it till it is slightly brown and starts popping. Put this in a thick bottomed steel pot, add the chopped onions, a little salt and cook on a low flame till the onions are soft and tender and the water is almost all evaporated. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté till all the water evaporates and the ginger garlic paste has lost its raw flavor. Add the green chillies and the tomatoes. Add more water and cook covered till the tomato pieces are very soft. Add this to the cooked vegetables.

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