Today after almost 2 and a half months of being away, I cleaned my home office space, connected my laptop to the big monitor and then just stared…
What should I do? Where should I start? Early December, I left for India on a 2 month volunteering pilgrimage. I met and served with such incredible people that my heart has still not processed all the experiences. Should I share an update from that or should I get the blog back on with a new recipe! Maybe I will go with both 🙂
Last week, a few times I was wondering which recipe will I share as a coming back home recipe and I was totally blank. Just like a sign, yesterday at Whole Foods, I found this bunch of beautiful Mustard Greens and I knew then that I will share the recipe for “Sarson ka Saag”.
What is Sarson ka Saag?
Sarson ka Saag is a classic Punjabi winter dish made with fresh Mustard greens (which is also the literal translation of sarson ka saag). Leafy green vegetables are abundant in winters and most Indian cuisines celebrate it by making different kinds of saag. Saag is a thick, wet preparation (almost like a mash) with leafy greens, mostly mustard and/or spinach. Like Saag Paneer is made with cottage cheese in a spinach saag. In this recipe, Mustard (sarson) is the main ingredient and I also add some spinach (palak) and fenugreek (methi) leaves.
Mustard greens are slightly bitter in taste so adding other green leafy vegetables balances that bitterness and also adds to the flavor. Other greens like bathua and radish greens can also be added. The stems of the mustard leaves are very thick. They are totally edible but I don’t like using them in the saag preparation. Instead I keep the stems for making vegetable stock.
Sarson ka saag along with with flat corn bread called Makai ki roti makes a delicious and nourishing meal. You can also serve it with other millet flatbreads like Bajra Roti or Jowar Roti. Corn, unlike wheat, has no gluten and thus to roll corn flour dough, I use the same trick, as in Bajra roti, of rolling between two food grade plastic sheets. I thoroughly enjoyed sarson ka saag and makai ki roti throughout the winters in India. Not only did I enjoy eating them, I loved rolling those rotis and serving everyone. I will share the recipe for Makai ki Roti in a follow up post soon.
Update: Makki ki Roti recipe posted!
Sarson Ka Saag (Vegan Indian Mustard Greens)
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 500 gms Mustard leaves sarson (~1 bunch)
- 100 gms Spinach leaves palak
- 100 gms Fenugreek leaves methi
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 inch Ginger grated
- 4-6 Garlic cloves grated
- 1 medium Onion finely chopped
- 1 Green chilli finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp corn flour
- 1 cup water
- Separate the leaves from the stems of the green vegetables.*
- Wash all the leaves in running water. It is important to wash them at least 3-4 times to make sure you get all the dirt stuck on the leaves out.
- Dry on a kitchen towel and roughly chop all the leaves.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add ginger, garlic, green chilli and onions. Sauté for a couple of minutes, till the onions become soft.
- Add the chopped leaves and mix together. Add salt to taste, mix well and cook covered for 4-5 minutes till the mustard and other leaves turn soft.
- Dissolve the corn flour in 1 cup water and add to the pan.
- Mix well and cook covered for another 5-6 minutes till the veggies are completely cooked.
- Remove from heat. Once the saag is cooled; grind it to a coarse paste using a handheld blender.
- Simmer the saag on low heat for a couple of minutes before serving.
- Serve hot with coarse cornmeal flatbreads (makai ki roti), some raw onions, chillies, and some vegan butter.
- * Mustard stems are particularly very thick. You can keep the softer stems, but I don’t like using the thick stems in the saag. I instead use them to make vegetable stock.
- It’s interesting how the dish uses only salt and no other spices. You get the authentic flavors of mustard balanced with other greens and ginger-garlic and onion.
- Nutritional Information is the approximate value for 1 of 2 servings.
Coming back to the Volunteering journey…
Over the last 2 months I was serving in different capacities in retreats and also in other spaces. During one of the 2-week retreat, I was serving in the kitchen team. In all we were around 90 people on campus and what was amazing about serving in the kitchen was to be able to greet everyone “Good Morning” as they come into the dining area for breakfast. After a few days, the kitchen team started to remember everyone’s tea/coffee preferences and it was even more beautiful to be gifted by that wide smile when someone was offered their morning cup before they had even asked. Here are some smiles from the breakfast counter!
There was so much to learn from serving with the regular kitchen staff that works there. I loved rolling out chapatis with everyone and becoming a part of their families. But most importantly something that was reiterated in every interaction was to cook with love. To cook with devotion, as if you are cooking for the Gods themselves! “Attithi devo bhava” (The Guest is like God) — I learned how to live that during those days!
Connect with me
I hope you like this recipe ad give it a try while mustard leaves are still in season. I am happy being back home and I am looking forward to sharing more regularly — the recipes, the monthly updates, and also the meal plans. Thank you for all your love and support!
I have been away from social media for sometime now and I am planning to slowly get back to sharing and be inspired by your creations!
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Would love to start a conversation, share recipes, cooking experiences and food stories from India and around the world.