There are so many gorgeous greens available at this time of the year, it is a pity to not cook them. And, they are so good for the body, too – seasonal produce always is. Seasonal produce is nature’s way of giving to us exactly what our body requires in a particular season, I believe.
I use only palak (spinach) and methi (fenugreek) greens in my everyday cooking, as I recently realised. At my last visit to the vegetable vendor’s, I counted out at least 10 different varieties of greens. The internet showed me there are about 20 varieties of greens commonly available in India! Why was I sticking to only two, then? Ignorance, mostly. Well, I have decided to change that, this season.
I am, henceforth, going to pick up a different variety of greens each time I go veggie shopping. I am going to find out what to do with them, and do it, as and when my schedule allows me to. I am going to delve into the vast world of healthy greens, and find out what it has to offer. I am going to try to understand the multitude of choices available to me, at the very least.
To start off, I picked up a bunch of mustard greens, popularly called sarson. Known as sassive soppu in Kannada, these greens are the major component of that very famous Punjabi side-dish Sarson Ka Saag. I could not think of making anything other than sarson ka saag for my first attempt, so sarson ka saag it was for yesterday’s lunch. Considering that I have never made it before, I relied heavily on this recipe. It turned out awesomely delicious, if I may say so myself. We had the saag with paneer parathas. (Yes, I know it is blasphemy to eat saag without makke di roti, but I didn’t have the necessary ingredients handy, neither did I have the bandwidth to try out one more new dish!)
The original recipe calls for radish greens, palak (spinach) and bathua (pappu koora or paruppu keerai) to be mixed with the mustard greens, to counter the slightly bitter taste that mustard greens have. I couldn’t get my hands on anything except palak, though. I used a combination of mustard greens and palak for the saag, as the recipe suggested I should. I am sure the bathua and radish greens would have elevated the taste of the dish to a whole new level. Next time, maybe..
Here is how I made the saag.
Ingredients (serves 2, as a stand-alone side dish):
To pressure cook:
A medium-sized bunch of mustard greens
A small bunch of palak (spinach)
4 medium-sized tomatoes
2 medium-sized onions
1 medium-sized radish
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled
4 green chillies, with a medium level of heat
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium-sized onions, chopped finely
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons besan/gram flour (ideally, one should use maize flour, but if one doesn’t have it, besan will do instead)
A pinch of asafoetida
Unsalted butter, to serve
- Pluck the leaves from the mustard greens, as well as the tender stems. Wash them thoroughly. Chop finely. Keep aside.
- Pluck the leaves from the spinach, as well as the tender stems. Wash them thoroughly. Chop finely. Keep aside.
- Peel the onions and dice them. Keep aside.
- Chop the tomatoes into large pieces. Keep aside.
- Remove the tops from the green chillies. Cut each into two pieces. Keep aside.
- Peel the radish. Chop into large cubes. Keep aside.
- Chop the ginger and garlic. Keep aside.
- Take the chopped mustard greens, spinach, ginger, garlic, green chillies, onions, tomatoes, and radish in a small pressure cooker. Add a little water and pressure cook all the vegetables – 4 whistles are good.
- When the pressure releases entirely, open the cooker. Let the cooked vegetables cool down a bit.
- Transfer the boiled vegetables to a mixer. If you think there is too much water, you can drain out some, or else, let it remain.
- Add the maize flour or besan to the mixer. Grind everything to a paste of the desired consistency. I made a smooth paste. If you want a coarse saag, grind it coarsely.
- Heat the oil in a pan. Add the asafoetida. Add the finely chopped onions to the pan, and cook till they are brown. Now, add the pureed vegetables and salt to taste. Mix well.
- Cook on a medium flame till the saag reaches the desired consistency. Ideally, it should be thick and not too watery.
- Serve hot with parathas or makke di roti. Add a dollop (or two!) of unsalted butter to the saag before you serve it.
- I didn’t add red chilli powder to the puree, as the original recipe calls for, because I felt that the heat from the green chillies was just right. You may add red chilli powder too, if you want to.
- You could use a hand blender and make the puree in the pressure cooker itself.
Do you like sarson ka saag? How do you make it?
If you have suggestions for any other things I can make using mustard greens, please do let me know!