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Sarson da Saag
- Duration: 30 minutes
- Serves: 4 to 5 people
Spice Level: Low
There are two authentic ways of preparing the Saag – you could either boil it over a slow fire along with grains of rice, or you could add in freshly-ground makki ka atta for thickness and flavour after the sarson has been boiled. Both ways ensure a creamy and thick Saag. The Saag, however, must never be run through a blender. Even though it takes longer, it must be mashed with the help of a potato-masher to get that traditional texture.
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Sarson da Saag is a winter staple in most traditional Punjabi kitchens. The sarson crop is generally planted alongside palak and kadvi saunf, and plucked in the winters when they have become tender. Elders in the rural heartland of the region often talk about how the sarson crop in the fields is never touched before being specially plucked for this dish alone! Savoured with makki ki roti, gud and dollops of desi ghee, the Saag is considered the most nutritious meal for people engaged in back-breaking work in their farmlands.
- Mustard leaves (sarson) (1 kg)
- Spinach (palak) (½ kg)
- Green chillies (hari mirch), slit vertically (4)
- Garlic (lehsun), finely chopped (8 to 10)
- Ginger (adrak), finely chopped (150 gm)
- Clarified butter (ghee) (for garnish)
- Corn flour (makki ka atta) (1 tbsp)
- Salt (to taste)
- Yellow mustard oil (sarson ka tel) (2tbsp)
- Cumin seeds (jeera) (1 tsp)
- Dry red chillies (sabut lal mirch), broken (4 to 5)
- Garlic (lehsun), finely chopped (2 tsp)
- Onion, chopped (1 cup)
- Asafoetida (hing) (½ tsp)
- Clean all the greens and remove their stems. Thoroughly wash the leaves under running water at least 7 to 8 times. Then, finely chop the sarson and palak.
- Put the greens in a pressure cooker and add the garlic, green chillies, ginger and salt, along with 2 cups of water. Pressure-cook on a high flame, timing it to 4 to 5 whistles, and then lower the flame. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Turn off the flame and allow the steam to escape naturally.
- Open the pressure cooker lid and thoroughly mash the greens with a potato-masher. Continue till they have turned into a thick, rough paste.
- Add in the Makki Ka Atta and mix thoroughly. Keep aside.
- In a pan, heat a tablespoon of mustard oil on a high flame till it starts to give off smoke.
- Wait for a few seconds, then add the jeera. As it begins to splutter, add the sabut lal mirch and garlic.
- Just when the garlic starts letting off a heady aroma and starts to turn pink, add the onions.
- Keep frying till the onions turn golden brown and then, add a pinch of hing.
- You will know that the tadka is ready when the oil begins to separate from the other ingredients.
- Add the Saag paste to this mix and simmer on a low flame for at least 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with a liberal dash of desi ghee, and Makki Ki Roti smeared with white butter.