Punjabi Sarson Ka Saag (Greens and Spices)

Sarson ka saag recipe

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Servings: 2 to 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
230 Calories
9g Fat
32g Carbs
9g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 230
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 586mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Protein 9g
Calcium 220mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Saag dishes in Indian cuisine contain leafy greens and a typical Punjabi (North Indian) dish, sarson ka saag is made with wilted greens. It's commonly served over flatbread, such as makki ki roti (Indian maize flatbread), as well as a dollop of fresh butter. This saag recipe balances out the bitter pungency of mustard greens with some sweet and earthy spinach and is combined with garlic, ginger, spices, and green chiles.

Sarson ka saag is common in Pakistan as well as northern India. It is a sabzi, which means it incorporates leafy parts of vegetables and herbs. Many dishes from this region of India are made with dairy, and several are curry recipes where the food is cooked in a gravy. North Indian cuisine has been strongly influenced by the cuisine from central Asia, in comparison to southern Indian foods.

There are a few ingredients in this recipe that may or may not be familiar to you. First, it requires the use of either grated garlic or garlic paste, along with either grated ginger or ginger paste. If you cook a lot of Indian food or Southeast Asian food, you might enjoy learning how to make your own, or you can buy garlic paste and garlic ginger in most well-stocked grocery stores or Asian or Indian grocers. Similarly, this recipe also uses ghee, which is clarified butter and can be found fairly easily in many supermarkets—or you can try your hand at making your own ghee. Just be sure to start with good quality butter. Finally, a small amount of Bengal gram flour is used to thicken, but you substitute chickpea or corn flour in this recipe and it will still work.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch (1/2 pound) spinach (washed and finely chopped)
  • 1 bunch (1/2 pound) mustard greens (washed and finely chopped)
  • 2 green chile peppers
  • Dash of salt, or to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 large onion (grated)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (grated) or ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (grated) or garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice (juice of 1/2 a lime or lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon Bengal gram flour, chickpea flour, or corn flour
  • Garnish: Unsalted butter

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for sarson ka saag
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. In a medium pot, mix the spinach, mustard greens, green chilies, and salt to taste. Add 1 cup water and boil until cooked.

    Spinach and mustard greens in a saucepan with spices
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Mash the greens and mix well to make a coarse paste.

    Greens mashed in a pot
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  4. In another pan, heat the ghee on a medium flame. When hot, add the grated onion and fry until a pale golden color.

    Ghee heated in a skillet with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Add the garlic and ginger paste, coriander, cumin, garam masala, lime juice, Bengal, chickpea, or corn flour, and fry until the oil separates from the masala (onion-spice mix).

    Spices, garlic, and ginger in saute pan
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Add the greens to this and stir until fully blended.

    Greens, garlic, onions, ginger and spices in a saucepan
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Garnish with a dollop of butter and serve with roti. Enjoy!

    Saag garnished with butter with roti on the side
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

What's the Difference Between Saag and Palak?

In Northern India, saag typically refers to a combination of spinach and mustard greens, as palak is the Hindi name for spinach. Although it's often made with spinach, saag paneer can be made with any leafy green or a combination of them, but palak paneer denotes a curry made with spinach only.

Tips for Cleaning Greens

  • Supermarket greens are typically cleaner than those you buy at a farmers market, but they all require washing regardless of their source. (You'll want to submerge them in a couple of changes of water if they're locally purchased, as they're likely to have dirt in hidden places.) To make it easier, chop off 1 to 2 inches of stem to remove any tough parts and make the greens more uniform in size, then wash.
  • Because you are cooking the greens in water, you don't need to dry them before chopping, which saves you some prep time.

Recipe Variation

  • Sarson ka saag is the perfect base for adding other ingredients to make the dish more substantial. To keep it vegetarian, add fried cubes of paneer cheese, or for a one-dish meal, incorporate cooked chicken or lamb. Feel free to incorporate other greens often a part of this recipe such as radish greens, Chenopodium (lamb's quarters), and fenugreek leaves, if you can find them.