When there is an abundance of greens available, what is better to make than Sarson ka Saag. Our green grocer stocks mustard greens now, so for the first time they are easy to obtain. We don’t get bathua greens though. It is traditional to use these but we have to substitute with other greens.
This is a rustic Punjabi dish, common in the Winter when the fields are filled with mustard. It is so loved it can bring tears to the eyes. The dish is easy to make – the greens are cooked with spices until tender, then coarsely pureed. Some people prefer to be pureed to a smooth paste, but traditionally the greens would be hand-ground with a wooden mixer called a mathani to get a puree. However, you can make this to whatever is your preference.
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Sarson ka Saag | Puree of Greens
750g mustard greens
300g Bathua greens (if you can’t get bathua, substitute with other greens)
50g fenugreek leaves
0.5 small daikon radish
3 green chillies, chopped
2 tspn ginger-garlic paste
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 – 2.5 Tblspn maize flour/fine cornmeal or cornflour
3 Tblspn ghee
1 tspn cumin seeds
pinch asafoetida powder
0.5 tspn Indian chilli powder
sea salt to taste
unsalted butter to garnish (white butter if possible)
Wash all the greens well, remove any tough stalks and chop roughly. Place in a large pan with the daikon, chillies, ginger-garlic paste, and tomatoes. Add a small amount of water and simmer until all is tender. Watch the water level and add a tiny bit more if needed.
Blend the vegetables with a stick blender to a coarse puree, and add salt to taste.
Mix the corn flour with a tiny amount of water, adding water until you get a pourable paste. Mix until smooth, then add it gradually to the puree, stirring all the time. Stir until well mixed. Continue to cook the puree on low heat for 15 or so minutes to ensure that the cornflour is cooked and to evaporate any excess liquid. The flavour develops the longer it simmers, and your patience is well rewarded. Use a heat diffuser if your flame is too hot. I like mine still a little “wet” but you can simmer until it is thick like a paste if you prefer. Watch that it does not burn.
Made a tadka by heating the ghee in a tadka pan or small pan, and adding the cumin seeds. When they crackle, remove from the heat and add the asafoetida and chilli powder. Pour it all over the puree.
Serve with a dollop of butter on top. You can add some green chilli and onion rings.
Great with makki roti, salad, pickle and curd.
recipe notes and alternatives
I have made this with Chilli Leaves to replace the Bathua, and it is delicious! Perhaps not a traditional taste, but delicious nevertheless.
The daikon can be replaced with a turnip. Carrots and onions can be added also.
Yoghurt or cream can be added to the final dish. Omit the butter garnish if this is the case.
This is great on crackers or on tiny squares of toast. Use it as a dip or in sandwiches and toasties.
How to use left overs? It goes very well in toasted sandwiches with cheese – particularly pecorino. Or stir through rice for a delicious accompaniment to a meal. You can puree it until smooth, then spread over a plate as a base and top with spicy chickpeas, crispy fried onions, and/or sliced green chillies. Or serve in a bowl with some toasted pita bread.