Sarson ka Saag is a popular and rustic dish that springs from the belly of India’s Punjab state and is loved — and eaten — by Indians around the world. If you love Saag Paneer, you will love this different but equally delicious dish made of smooth, creamy greens in a spicy sauce. Vegan, soy-free, nut-free and gluten-free recipe.
Sarson ka Saag is comfort food for the tummy and soul.
This smooth, creamy curried dish of mustard greens and spinach is as often found in restaurants and dhabas as it is in Punjabi kitchens, and there are probably as many ways to make it as there are cooks. Some versions include tomatoes, others don’t. Some puree the greens, others don’t. Some add spices, others don’t.
Today, I have for you my version — which is very close to the traditional — but it’s made easier, and way quicker, with my basic tomato onion sauce.
But first, in case you need to decode what Sarson ka Saag means, here’s a quick primer. Sarson is the Punjabi word for mustard, and saag stands for any dish made with leafy greens (like saag aloo or saag paneer).
There’s a lot more going on here other than mustard, but the mustard greens are the undisputed star. There’s spinach in this recipe, and a few spices, including garam masala.
One of the things that, to me at least, sets this recipe apart from other north Indian recipes is a roux of corn that goes into the greens. It gives a unique flavor while also helping make the sauce thicker and creamier. You can use your regular stoneground or any cornmeal for this.
Punjabi cuisine has become rather synonymous with Indian cuisine around the globe, because most Indian restaurants, for years, offered a menu that was mainly north Indian, with dishes like Chana Bhatura, Chana Masala, Palak Paneer, Rajma, Aloo Paratha, Dal Makhani, Lassi and so much more, including lots of meat dishes. While may restaurants are now beginning to diversify their menus to include regional favorites from other parts of India, some of these north Indian favorites have stuck around and become staples, even for non-Indian eaters.
Sarson ka Saag is one of those dishes that you might not encounter on menus as often as the others I mentioned above, probably because it’s a little more rustic and homely. But it is also one of those dishes that any Indian might first identify when talking about quintessential and homegrown vegetarian Punjabi cuisine. Especially when paired with a corn flatbread called Makki di Roti.
Dunking a hot makki di roti into a bowl of Sarson da Saag and then into your mouth is a delicious experience almost impossible to describe, and not one to be missed by anyone who loves food, especially a vegetarian or a vegan.
Ingredients you will need for Sarson ka Saag:
- Basic tomato onion sauce
- Mustard greens
- Vegetable oil
I can’t find mustard greens. Can I make this with other greens?
Yes. The mustard is great and adds unique flavor, but you can make this dish with spinach or another green that won’t take ages to cook.
Traditionally, a number of greens are added to the recipe depending on who’s cooking. Bhatua greens — or pigweed, which grows wild here in the United States (forage only if you know what you’re doing), can be added to your Sarson ka Saag, or you can add radish greens (daikon radishes are most commonly eaten in India, although you can use the leafies of the little pink or purple or white radishes too because they have a similar, pungent flavor to daikon leaves).
I followed your directions, but why does my saag taste bitter?
You didn’t cook it long enough. The mustard greens need to cook thoroughly, and if you find that your saag still tastes bitter, you just need it to give more time on the stove.
What can I serve this Sarson ka Saag with?
Traditionally, sarson ka saag is eaten with a corn flatbread called a Makki di Roti. I’ll try and share that recipe with you in the near future, but meanwhile, naan or a roti works just as well. Or eat with a warm corn tortilla.
Because this is a rustic dish, serve the saag with half-moons of raw onions and wedges of lemon for an authentic experience.
You can also skip tradition and serve this with a simple Jeera Rice for a memorable meal.
Now here’s the recipe for an ultra-delicious and easy Sarson ka Saag that’ll make you want to lick the plate. And be sure to let me know if you make it! I wanna know.
Looking for more recipes with the basic tomato onion sauce?
Sarson ka Saag | Creamy Mustard Greens Curry
Vegan | Gluten-free | Soy-free | Nut-free
Sarson ka Saag
- Large saucepan
- 1/2 pound mustard greens (roughly chopped)
- 1/4 pound spinach (roughly chopped)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil (or use vegan butter. Don't use coconut oil because like I've often said before on this blog, coconut oil is not a flavor that works for north Indian recipes)
- 2 large cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp cornmeal
- 1.5 cups basic tomato onion sauce
- Salt to taste
- In a large saucepan, place the spinach and mustard greens with 1/2 cup of water. Cover and let the greens cook five minutes or until they are completely wilted and tender. Remove with the liquid to a food processor and blend into a smooth puree. Set aside.
- Make sure the saucepan is dry and heat the oil. Add the cornmeal and cook it, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick, for a minute or so.
- Add the tomato onion sauce and mix well. Add the pureed greens and bring everything to a boil. Lower the heat so the sauce continues to simmer with gentle bubbling in the pot. If your curry looks too dry, add a little vegetable stock or water. Let the curry cook for 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle on the garam masala and add salt to taste.
- Serve hot, preferably with makki ki roti or any Indian flatbread like naan or roti. Because this is a rustic dish, it tastes great served with an Indian pickle, slices of raw onion and wedges of lime or lemon.