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Sarson Ka Saag
India - Punjab
This purée of greens is very popular in the Punjab region of India
(Northwest). It is made with countless variations of ingredients and method,
but the mustard greens are invariable. The "tempering" (tarka, tadka or
whatever) varies greatly, and sometimes the greens are spiced a bit more
and simply garnished with butter or crumbled paneer cheese. In all cases
you want to end up with a purée that's thick but still pourable.
Serve with corn bread, chapatis, roti, or similar.
Methi Greens (2)
Green Chili (3)
Butter or Ghee
Note: all weights for the greens are bunches as purchased with
- Float wash All Greens to completely remove sand and mud. Strip
leaves and tender tips from Methi. Strip stems from Greens
and cut or tear into coarse pieces.
- Chop Chilis and Onions medium. Mix.
- In a kadhai, wok or other suitable pan, place Greens and
Chili Mix. Mix Cornstarch, Salt and Water and
pour in with the greens. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer slowly
for about an hour until greens are very well cooked. Turn occasionally
and check water to make sure they don't dry out.
- Meanwhile: Slice GINGER thin and chop small. Slice
GARLIC about 1/16th inch thick.
- When Greens have cooked, let them cool a bit and then run them
in a food processor (in batches as needed) until very smooth.
- Wash the pan and pour the Greens back in. Bring up slowly to
a simmer, watching that it doesn't splatter a lot. Adjust consistency as
needed, it should be just pourable, not too thin nor too thick,
- Tempering: Heat Butter in a small pan over moderate heat
and fry Ginger and Garlic until just lightly browned.
- Pour Greens into a fairly shallow serving dish. Pour tempering
over it and give just a few strokes of stirring to streak it into the
- "Spinach:" All recipes say "spinach", but
über-expert Julie Sahni says "spinach" in India is very different
from North American spinach. She suggests Swiss Chard (white stem
version) as the closest substitute, and that's what I use. She says
if you must use regular spinach include a small green bell pepper
(chopped) to improve the flavor. If you do use regular spinach cut the
weight down to about 10 ounces and use all but the largest stems.
- Methi Greens: This is Fenugreek greens.
Find them in markets serving Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or Indian
communities. For details see our
Fenugreek page. Note that some recipes use Goosefoot (Lambs Quarters,
Pigweed, Chenopodium album) instead of Methi (or a whole lot of
it in place of the spinach). You can't buy that in North America, but
it's such a common and aggressive weed here you may have plenty of it
in your garden
- Green Chilis: Naturally these should be
green Indian "elephant trunk" chilis, but those are not always available
even where I shop, so use Serranos if you need to. Two seed-in serranos
makes this recipe noticeably hot - use your own best judgement.
- U.S. measure: t=teaspoon,
T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce,
#=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required
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