Saag, most commonly consumed in Punjab, makes a popular dish in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. According to Culinary Expert and Food Blogger Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji, "A winter specialty from Punjab, Sarso ka Saag is prepared with fresh mustard leaves, spinach and bathua and tempered with clarified butter, a pinch of hing, ginger, garlic, onions and tomatoes, sprinkled with Punjabi garam masala and topped with a dollop of homemade, unsalted white butter and accompanied with Ek mukka maar ke Gandda (onion) i.e. in Punjab, the locals prefer to hit an onion on its crown with a folded fist, peel and then relish it."(Also read: What Makes Sarso Da Saag A Winter Favourite?)
Saag, most commonly consumed in Punjab, makes a popular dish in Uttar Pradesh and HaryanaThis delicacy requires careful precision to get the right taste. Here are some useful tips you should keep in mind while making Sarson ka Saag, followed by a wonderful recipe to try at home.
1. Mustard leaves and spinach are blanched and cooked uncovered as green vegetables have volatile acids which should be allowed to escape or else the green vegetables lose their colour (discoloration) and tend to become bitter in taste.
2. Mustard leaves have a unique flavour that is mildly bitter but quite pleasing to the palate; to decrease the bitterness, the mustard leaves are first cooked or blanched in boiling water with the spinach and bathua before it is actually cooked with the tempering.
3. Also adding grated jaggery and spinach helps mellow down the bitter taste in Mustard leaves (sarso)
4. Prefer topping the prepared Sarson Ka Saag with homemade unsalted white butter, as you do not want processed butter in your saag.
5. The texture of the saag depends on your personal preference, while most may prefer coarse texture, many may like it smooth. To make the texture smooth, blend them together to make a puree and then cook the saag.
6. You can add one baby turnip, a small raddish or one carrot for variation in your dish.
7. If bathua is unavailable, add the same amount of spinach instead of the bathua.
8. Do not add salted butter on top of the saag as it may only increase the salt content that the vegetables already have.
9. You can make some extra saag and keep for at least 4-5 days and store in the refrigerator.
10. In order to thicken the Sarso ka saag, you can add cornmeal or makke ka atta and ghee providing the saag a rich and nutty flavour.
Punjabi Sarson da Saag Recipe
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 to 50 minutes
- Mustard Leaves- 04 bunches
- Spinach- 1 and a half bunch
- Bathua (Pigweed)-01 bunch
- Makki-Ka-Atta (Maize Flour) - 1 and a half tbsp.
- Jaggery, grated- 03 tsp.
- Ginger- 1 inch piece
- Clarified Butter (Desi Ghee) - 02 tbsp.
- Asafoetida- a pinch
- Onion- 01 large
- Garlic- 08 cloves
- Green Chillies- 02 nos.
- Tomatoes, finely chopped / puree - 02 nos.
- Salt- To Taste
- Cumin, lightly roasted and crushed- 1/4th tsp.
- Red Chilli Powder- half tsp.
For the garnish:
Ginger, cut into julienne- half inch piece
For the Sprinkling:
Punjabi Garam masala powder-half tsp
White butter, home-made, unsalted- one tbsp.
- Clean and wash the mustard leaves in running water.
- Clean and wash the spinach and bathua in running water.
- Roughly shred leaves and finely slice stems.
- Discard the hard stems.
- Remove and discard the stems and wash green chillies. Chop green chillies finely.
- Scrape, wash and roughly cut half of the ginger, cut the rest into very fine juliennes.
- Peel, wash and chop onions and garlic finely.
- Put the mustard leaves, spinach , Bathua and green chillies in a heavy bottomed pan, add roughly chopped ginger, salt and water.
- Bring to a boil and simmer until tender (Do not cover).
- Remove, drain and reserve the excess liquid if any.
- Put the drained leaves in a blender and make a coarse puree.
- Transfer the puree to the heavy bottomed pan add makki-ka -atta , red chilli powder, remaining chopped green chillies and grated jaggery. Mix Well
- Return to heat and add the reserved liquid.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning.
For the Tempering:
- Heat Ghee, add asafetida, add chopped onion and fry till translucent. Sauté garlic till light golden brown, add green chillies, add roasted and crushed cumin, add red chilli powder. Sauté over medium heat add tomato puree sauté till ghee oozes out .
- Bring the simmering sarson ka saag to a boil and pour on the tempering, Stir to serve
- Remove to a bowl, garnish with juliennes of ginger, sprinkle garam masala powder.
- Serve Sarson Ka Saag hot with Makke Ki Roti and with a dollop of white butter.
These tips and recipe will serve all the goodness of winter vegetables in Sarso ka Saag! Treat away!