The first time I was introduced to this traditional Punjabi meal was during my wedding planning. My husband and in-laws requested that this be on the menu somewhere. I didn’t understand what it was or the goodness of it until quite a bit later (much later than my wedding). Of course, during my wedding, I didn’t remember eating or tasting anything with so much going on. After I got married, I remember my mother-in-law making it a few times for my husband and seeing the pure joy on his face as he ate the Saag and Roti. I felt, wow, such a simple meal (for Indian food) and yet it brings him so much happiness. Of course I decided to try it out on my own. I am always told, even to this day, how this is supposed to be a really hard recipe to master. I’m definitely not making it the way my mother-in-law does, but my shortcut recipe has managed to impress her, my husband and my daughter! As they say, a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I’m already in my hubby’s heart, but this is one recipe that guarantees a spot for any of you out there looking to impress your significant other.
Sarson da Saag is basically a vegetable dish made of Mustard Greens. It is very earthy in taste and rich not only in flavor but nutrients also. Mustard Greens provide an abundance of potassium and Vitamins K, A, C, and E. Traditionally, it is cooked in water and hand churned until you get the creamy, buttery consistency. If I had the time, I might try it. But since I don’t, I obviously created a shortcut (my handy dandy blender). Try it out and tell me what you think:
Wash the mustard greens and remove the stems. Coarsely chop them by hand. Also, wash the spinach and set it aside.
In a deep pot, heat some EVOO. Add onions and sauté until they are translucent. Add in the garlic and ginger.
Add in the coarsely chopped mustard greens and sprinkle the salt over it. The MGs are quite bitter so it takes a good amount of salt to counteract the earthy tones.
If it looks like it’s about to spill out of the pot, then you’re on the right track. The MGs will shrink just like the spinach so don’t be scared that you are adding too much. There can never be too much greens.
See! I told you it will shrink down. Now, add in the spinach with enough salt to account for it’s bitter taste.
Yes, this is going to shrink down too. You’ll have a lot less than you imagined. I used to think, wow, I’m making so much and it ends up being just enough for dinner and maybe a lunch leftover.
Yep, that’s pretty much what you’re left with after overflowing your pot with spinach and mustard greens!
If you try to taste your dish at this point, it’s going to be quite pungent even after adding all that salt! The trick here – add in some cornmeal. It will help thicken the saag and mellow out the greens.
Mix it well and pulse it in the blender until you get a smooth, creamy texture. This is not the smooth or the creamy texture. I just took it out of the blender too quick and had to put it back in and pulse a few more times.
This is the dark, smooth and creamy texture that you should get.
The saag tastes great on its own, but man does it just go a whole other level with Makki di Roti. Makki di Roti is basically corn bread. It’s not your traditional Roti that is usually soft and pliable. This is a bit thicker and can hold all that saag without getting the roti soggy. One more thing – Makki di Roti is typically made by flattening the dough between the palms. I am using a different technique by placing the dough in between a ziploc bag and rolling it out with a rolling pin. This just works better for me.
In a bowl, add the corn flour and carom seeds. Add water a little at a time as your knead the dough.
Divide the dough into equal portions and place between the plastic of a ziploc.
Roll it out with a rolling pin. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t smooth. Corn Flour is gluten free and tends to stick so the sides may not come out smooth (mine sure don’t!).
On a tava or pan, add a little oil before placing the roti to cook so it doesn’t stick to the pan.
Let it cook for a couple of minutes then turn it over and cook for a few more minutes. Make sure to add a little oil to both sides so it doesn’t stick to the pan.
Sarson da Saag:
2 bunches of Mustard Greens, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 bunch spinach
1 med red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1inch knob of ginger, grated
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp Corn meal
Makki di Roti:
2 c Corn Flour
1 tsp carom seeds
1-1 ½ c cold water
For the Saag:
In a deep non-stick pot, heat 1 Tbsp EVOO. Add in onions and sauté til they are translucent. Add in the ginger and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
Add in the mustard leaves and sprinkle with ½ Tbsp salt. Mix in well and when they start to shrink, add in the spinach. Sprinkle the spinach with the remaining salt. Mix in well until all the greens have shrunk and started to cook. Add in the corn meal.
When the corn meal has mixed in well and the greens are cooked, turn off stove and place the mixture into a blender. Pulse until you have a smooth and creamy texture.
In the same pot, add 1 Tbsp EVOO and the blended mixture. Cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
For the Roti:
In a bowl, add the corn flour and mix in the carom seeds. Add cold water a little at a time while kneading the dough. You want the dough to be a little soft and sticky but not wet. It should form in your hands without falling apart.
Divide the dough equally into balls. Place one inside a plastic ziploc and roll with a rolling pin into a flat tortilla shape.
On high heat, place a little EVOO on a tava/frying pan. Add the roti and cook for a few minutes. Add a little oil on the top and flip to cook on the other side.
Enjoy your Sarson da Saag and Makki di Roti.