Winter time in North India is special. You get to eat all those delicious gachak & rewaris. That steaming hot gajar ka halwa. The good thing that I like about winters is that the vegetable market is a sea of greens. You find nice lush green palak, methi, sarson and bathua at any vegetable vendor place. To be honest, I love winters more than summers as I can eat my favorite Punjabi dish Sarson ka saag and makki ki roti with loads of white makkhan.
The key thing before you start making the saag is that you need to wash the sarson, palak and bathua very thoroughly. The leaves of mustard or sarson can be very dirty and if you do not do a very through wash of those leaves then they will come in your mouth while you are eating the saag and the entire dish is effectively ruined.
Sarson or mustard by itself is a bit bitter so better to add bathua and spinach to make it taste sweeter. Another point is that in some places there will be usually a challenge getting Bathua or even sarson. I suggest you get methi and spinach (palak) and some mooli(radish). Methi is a bit bitter so use less of methi and more of spinach.
The best way to enjoy the saag is with makki di roti and homemade white butter. If you go to any Punjab village you can definitely see the households having saag with dollops of ghee added and makki di roti with dollops of butter on top. Yummy and delicious though you may need to watch out for the calories and the kilos you will add !
Here are the step by step instructions with some images of the sarson ka saag recipe
1) This dish is easy to make but the toughest part is cleaning. Cut out the stems for the sarson leaves , bathua leaves and the spinach leaves. Now you can leave the stems there but sometimes they can destroy the taste if they are not cooked properly as they can be very hard. It is better to cut the stems. Usually they can be just cut out with the hand or take the bunch and just cut out the lower portion of the entire bunch together. Wash the leaves and wash again and wash again.
2) Place the leaves in the strainer to drain out the water
3) Once the water is drained out then take the leaves and cut them. No need to cut them into fine stuff, just them into smaller chunks such that it is easy when you blend them later in the blender.
4) After cutting put the leaves (spinach, bathua and sarson) into the pressure cooker. Now in the pressure cooker add some two bowls of water ( katori as we call in hindi). Add one big ginger piece into the cooker as well. No need to grate this piece of ginger. Just peel and put it into the cooker. It will leave a very good aroma. Add two green chillies as well.
5) Now give about 3-4 whistles in the pressure cooker. You can check to see if the leaves are soft enough after removing the cooker from the gas. Let the mixture cool off and become lukewarm. Take out the piece of ginger as we do not want to blend it.
6) Take out the soft leaves and blend them with a blender. Make it into a very thick puree. Now that said I know in some north Indian houses they do not make it into a fine puree and let it be a bit coarse. It all depends on how you want to eat it. I like it medium , so for me it is a puree but not that fine. You can check the coarseness of the puree by tasting it a bit. You should be able to feel some very fine leaves/lumps etc. Generally I just give one round of blend and take the mixture out. You will see that after one round it is not even a puree and it is just a coarse mixture. That is really how the actual saag is made. You can do two rounds if you wish to make it a little more pureed form.
7) Pour the puree into another pan. Add 2 tbsp of maize flour and mix it well with the thick puree of blended leaves. Put it on the burner and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Add just a bowl of water to make sure that the thick puree can simmer properly.
8) While the blended greens mixture is simmering in step 7, you should take another small pan and heat some oil in it. Once the oil is heated, add some grated ginger into it. Then add three or four pieces of garlic and then add the chopped onions into it. Once the onions are light brown, add chopped green chillies. Always add the stuff into oil in this order ginger first, then garlic and then onions and chillies. If you add ginger later then it will stick to the pan.
9)Take this mixture of oil, onions, chillies, ginger and garlic and pour it on the simmering mixture of blended greens.
10) Take two tablespoons of desi ghee and add it to the mixture. Stir well. This will give that extra flavour and taste.
11) Your saag is ready. eat it with makki ki roti and homemade butter.
- Green Mustard / (sarson) leaves – 2 bunch ( you can use cups as measurement as well). So this will be 2 cups full of sarson leaves.
- Spinach leaves / (Palak) –1 bunch or 1 cup
- Bathua – 1 bunch
- Makki ka Atta (cornmeal) – 2 tbsp or maize flour. (alternatively you can use besan or gram flour)
- Green chilies – 2 to 3 chopped
- Green chillies - 2 full
- Ginger – 1 inch long
- Garlic - Four pieces chopped
- Onion – 3 sliced medium size
- Oil – 5 tbsp
- Red chilly powder – add to taste
- Salt – add to taste
- Butter / Ghee – 1 tbsp
- Make sure to clean the sarson, bathua and radish leaves
- Chop the greens so that they can easily be cooked
- Add the leaves into the pressure cooker
- Cook the leaves in the pressure cooker for about 7-8 minutes
- Once done take out the contents
- Put them into a blender
- Turn on the blender and till all the leaves are blended into a smooth curry
- Pour the blended green into another pan
- Let it simmer for a about 30 minutes
- Fry the onions in another pan for some time till they are golden brown
- Now add a little bit of saag to this frying pan so that the saag and the oiniuon mix well.
- Take this mixture of onions and saag and add it to the big pan with all the saag
- Serve with makki ki roti