Friday, April 11, 2014

Sarson saag

Tonight's Menu

Mustard greens(Sarson ka saag)
Corn cakes (Makkai ka cheela)
Buttermilk (Chaach)

Sarson ka saag with makkai ka cheela and chaach  

Sarson ka saag and makkai ki roti is quintessentially a Punjab fare with its hearty rich flavor and lush green color. Fresh mixed greens slow cooked and hand churned to a creamy consistency topped with fresh white butter served with makkai paratha and chaach - earthy, hearty, fresh food, a real labor of love. Packed with earthy nutrients, it represents the abundant seasonal harvest of sarson or mustard during winter and spring. Nothing lifts up the spirits like one look at those endless fields of lush greens tipped with golden yellow flowers. 
Traditionally the real saag is cooked using various types of greens - mustard, spinach, bathua and methi. These are slow cooked with salt , fresh ginger and green chilies, hand churned in its own water to a creamy consistency and then topped with fried onions, garlic and butter. Urban shortcut - pressure cook and grind in the blender. Any way you make it, this meal is sure to delight your family and warm up those cold winter nights.

Note on Rapini: Rapini, also called as broccoli rabe is the closest cousin to mustard greens that I find in Canada. This cruciferous vegetable has edible leaves, stem and buds. The small broccoli like buds within the leaves taste very bitter when cooked in the saag. So I usually remove them before boiling. 

Mustard greens(Sarson ka saag)

Sarson ka saag (Mustard greens)
2 bunches Rapini (mustard leaves)
1 bunch Spinach
1 large red onion chopped fine
4-5 cloves garlic minced
1 inch ginger 
3-4 green chilies chopped
2 tsp corn meal
2 tbsp mustard oil OR olive oil
salt to taste
pinch asefoetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
Red chili powder to taste
White butter to serve (optional)
  1. Wash, drain and roughly chop the three bunches of greens (see note above). Place these in a large pan with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook on high with no lid, stirring as it boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking with no lid till the greens are cooked through. 
  2. This cooking with no lid is essential to keep the greens looking bright green. Alternately you can pressure cook the greens for 2-3 whistles.
  3. Cool and grind coarsely along with ginger and green chilies.
  4. In a large pan heat olive oil and add asefoetida and cumin seeds. On medium heat add chopped onion and garlic. 
  5. Cook stirring often till onion turns light brown. Add the ground greens and coriander powder, red chili powder, and sprinkle the cornmeal on top. Mix well to blend everything together.
  6. When the mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to medium and cover the pan. The greens will cook and splatter all over, so to reduce your clean up time cover. 
  7. Occasionally open the lid and stir to avoid burning. If the mixture looks too dry, add some water.
  8. If you want to add the butter, add some now and cook on low heat. After 20 minutes you will see some oil in the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. Serve hot topped with a dollop of butter.  
Corn cakes (Makkai ka cheela)

Makkai ka cheela (Corn cakes)

These are very much like pancakes in softness and fluffiness. Much faster to make and use wayyy less fat than the traditional makkai ki roti. 
Ingredients: (makes 12-15) 
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup corn kernels
1 1/2 cup buttermilk (OR 1 cup yogurt + 1 1/4 cup water)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
salt to taste
freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp grated ginger
Oil/butter for frying
White butter to serve (optional)

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl to form a smooth pancake like batter. 
  2. Heat a non stick pan and spray or brush with oil. Pour 1 ladle batter and cook over medium heat till bubbles appear on top. Turn and cook on the other side. Serve hot topped with a dollop of butter.

Sarson ka saag with makkai ka cheela and chaach

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