**Note: Original post created Jul 2017. Updated October 2021**
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:
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 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.
I feel like almost every culture has their version of beans and rice. There’s the Latin style with adobo seasoning, the African style flavored with smoked paprika and garlic, Creoles use the “holy trinity” for theirs, Jamaican red beans and rice have coconut milk and scotch bonnet peppers, the Japanese use Adzuki beans with their rice, and the Indians have Rajma Chawal. Why are red beans and rice so common everywhere?
I don’t know. But what I do know is they make a complete protein when eaten together so it’s really beneficial to vegetarians and vegans who don’t get their complete proteins from animal protein to feel full.
I never thought Rajma was all that special until my friend Sumit made it one day. He makes the most amazing Rajma so I never bothered to learn because I could just call him up! But now he’s moved to a different state and it’s not as readily available so I have tried and tried and tried to perfect my Rajma.
From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this classic dish of Rajma!
Set Instant Pot to saute mode and add oil. When it's heated, add in cumin seeds, hing, and cinnamon stick. Let them roast and sizzle for 30-60 seconds.
Add in the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until tender. Add in the ginger and garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
When the onions are golden brown, add in tomatoes, turmeric, cayenne pepper, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala and salt. Mix well and cook for another 3 minutes.
Drain the soaked rajma and add to the pot. Mix well to coat all of the beans in the gravy.
Add in the water and mix.
Turn off the saute mode and cover the instant pot with the vent in sealing position.
Set to Bean/Chili mode which will automatically set the time to 30 minutes.
When the timer beeps, release the pressure from the instant pot and open lid. Stir in the lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.
Serve hot with rice or naan.
For Stovetop instructions:
Follow the same recipe above and cook in pressure cooker for 3 whistles.
For Slow Cooker instructions:
Kidney Beans have a natural toxin called phytohaemagglutinin which is hard to digest and may cause nausea/vomiting. If you don't presoak the beans, then I recommend not using the slow cooker method to cook rajma. If you do presoak the beans, then:
Boil the presoaked kidney beans for 20 minutes, then follow the same recipe above. Set heat to high and cook for 5-6 hours.
** If you don't have time to soak the beans overnight, increase instant pot cook time to 45 minutes ** the amount of water I used gives this rajma a thicker gravy. If you are looking to have a more soupy rajma, add an additional 1/2 c of water.
Aloo parathas are a standard in any Indian household, especially for breakfast/brunch on the weekends. Traditionally a Punjabi dish, it is popular amongst everyone for its taste, and the nostalgic reminder of home. Continue reading “Aloo Paratha Yum “→
Growing up, one of my favorite North Indian dishes has always been Chole. Whether we were eating at a wedding, an Indian restaurant, or requesting it as my special birthday dinner, Chole has always been a constant and a comfort in my life. The aroma of it freshly made in the air, just pulls at you.
There are so many different versions of making this recipe based on where in North India you are. Sometimes, even in the same region, recipes differ vastly from home to home. I prefer mine to have a thick red gravy, which is best achieved I’ve found by adding an abundance of tomatoes (and I really mean A LOT) and spices. The best part is that this dish is such a classic, you can never go wrong. Serve it hot with rice, naan or Bhatura and be prepared to be wowed!
From my Kitchen to yours, I really hope you enjoy this.
1 c dried chickpeas, washed and soaked overnight (at least 4 hours)
1 ½ c water
1 Tbsp Olive or Avocado Oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1″ ginger, grated
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 med-large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 ¾ c tomato sauce
2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp coriander powder
1 Tbsp Chole Masala
1 tsp aamchur (dry mango) powder
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
2-3 bay leaves
½ tsp peppercorns
1″ cinnamon stick
cilantro to garnish
1. Start the instant pot on sauté mode. Add oil and let it heat up.
2. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add in the cinnamon stick, peppercorns and bay leaf. Sauté for 30 seconds.
3. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.
4. Add in the onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes until they turn translucent and start shrinking.
5. Add in the tomatoes, cayenne pepper, coriander powder, chole masala, and salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes start softening. Add in the tomato sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
6. Drain the water from the chickpeas and add them to the instant pot. Mix well with the gravy and cook for 2-3 minutes.
7. Add in the water and mix well. Turn off the instant pot, cover with vent to sealing position and change setting to manual/pressure cook for 40 minutes.
8. When the instant pot beeps, do a 20 minute NPR (natural pressure release). If the pin has not dropped at this point, release the pressure and open the instant pot.
9. Change setting to sauté, add in the aamchur powder and let boil for 3-5 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt.
10. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rice, naan or bhature.
Kadhi is a very popular and a staple dish of India. Different parts of India have their own version. Sindhi kadhi has veggies in it; people from the state of Haryana put green chickpeas in theirs; South Indians also put veggies in theirs including squash, carrots, peas and potatoes; Rajasthani and Gujarati kadhi is usually a little on the thinner side while the Gujaratis also add okra in theirs on occasion and the Punjabi’s add pakoras to their version of kadhi.
I’m a Gujarati and so I’ve been raised on the thinner version of kadhi. Even then, there is no one version. Kadhi is usually yellow in color from the turmeric added to it but Gujaratis make a version without the turmeric in it and more sour yogurt is used – this type of kadhi is usually served at weddings. Growing up it was one of my favorites and I would always ask my mom to make wedding kadhi when I was going home for the weekend. I still call it that. Yeah…. I know.
Just thinking of the word kadhi makes me reminisce home, comfort, and curling up with a warm bowl, eating it as a soup. So when I married my Punjabi husband and was introduced to their version of Punjabi kadhi, my idea of kadhi came to a halt. It was different from what I grew up with alright, being much thicker with more stuff in it than I was used to. I think the biggest surprise, let’s say, that I had when having Punjabi kadhi was the pakoras that are put in it.
My idea of a pakora is eating it on a rainy day with a cup of chai in hand. Needless to say, this one took a little getting used to. But, I’ve come around I suppose. And as usual, I’ve put my twist on it.
There was a lot of experimenting the type of pakoras I wanted to use and the spices. I remember one of the first times I made this, one of my best friends from college, Ashi, had come over with her family. She’s Punjabi too so I was hoping to use her as a taste tester. I’m so glad I did because she helped me figure out which spice would work and that adding a little more will only enhance the flavor.
As for the pakoras, they are typically made from onion and potatoes but I wanted to give a “healthy” spin to something I’m frying (oxymoron, I know) so I decided to use spinach instead of potatoes. And let me tell you, they taste sooooooo much better!
My biggest change to this traditional recipe: I finish off cooking the pakoras in the oven. This makes them crispy and won’t “melt” them in the kadhi. When I first started making this dish, my pakoras would disintegrate into the kadhi because they were too soft. I found that toasting them in the oven helps keep their shape and they do soften up when added to the kadhi so you don’t taste the crunch but I love the toasted red color it adds.
From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy!
For the Kadhi:
1 c Besan (chickpea/gram flour)
2 c yogurt
1 med onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1″ ginger knob, grated
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jheera)
3 dried red chilis, split in half
1 tsp turmeric
3-4 curry leaves
1 tsp cayenne pepper (Kashmiri Deggi Mirch)
1 ½ tsp coriander powder (dhania powder/ dhana jheeru)
1 ½ tsp cumin powder (jheera powder)
2 Tbsp Kasoori Methi
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt to taste
For the Pakoras:
1 lg yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 c spinach, roughly chopped
¾ c chickpea flour
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp salt
oil for frying
For the Kadhi:
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk yogurt to a smooth consistency. Add in the gram flour and continue whisking until all lumps are smoothed out. Transfer to a deep pot, add in 4 cups of water, salt and turmeric. Mix and simmer on low-medium heat.
In a pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds, dried red chili, fenugreek seeds. Once the fenugreek seeds are light red in color, add in curry leaves and let cook for 30 seconds. Add in the onions and sauté until they are golden brown. About 5-6 minutes. Add in the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute. Add in the cayenne pepper, coriander powder, cumin powder and mix well. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes to so the spices bloom.
Add the onions to the kadhi and mix well. Cook on low-medium heat for about 30-45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. The kadhi will thicken as it cooks. Add more water if it is too thick. When it’s done, turn off stove and add in kasoori methi and stir.
For the Pakoras:
Add the onions and spices in a bowl and mix well. Let it rest for about 20-25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Add in the spinach and gram flour and mix. The water released from the onions will help bind the batter together. It should be a little on the thicker/dry side but if it is too much, add water 1 tablespoon at a time.
Using a spoon, drop medium sized pakoras in hot oil to fry. Pull them out when they are just under done and lay them on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 5-7 minutes to make them crispy.
Add the pakoras to the kadhi and serve with steamed rice.