Punjabi Sarson Ka Saag (Greens and Spices)

Sarson ka saag recipe

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 27 mins
Total: 47 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
159 Calories
11g Fat
13g Carbs
5g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 159
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 25mg 8%
Sodium 585mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 76mg 382%
Calcium 175mg 13%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 653mg 14%
*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.

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Ingredients

  • 1 bunch (1/2 pound) spinach, washed and finely chopped

  • 1 bunch (1/2 pound) mustard greens, washed and finely chopped

  • 1 to 2 green chile peppers, such as jalapeños or serranos, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)

  • 1 large onion, grated

  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger or ginger paste

  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic or garlic paste

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lime or lemon)

  • 1 tablespoon Bengal gram flour, chickpea flour, or corn flour

  • Unsalted butter, garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for sarson ka saag
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. In a large pot, mix the spinach, mustard greens, green chilies, and salt. Add 1 cup water, cover, bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-high and continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until very tender.

    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. Alternatively, pulse several times in a food processor.

    Greens mashed in a pot
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Melt the ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the grated onion and fry, stirring occasionally until light golden.

    Ghee heated in a skillet with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Lower the heat to medium, add the garlic and ginger paste, coriander, cumin, garam masala, lime juice, and flour. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the mixture is thick and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

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

    Greens, garlic, onions, ginger and spices in a saucepan
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Adjust the seasoning with salt to taste, 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.