Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Chholar Saak Bahja (Stir fried Chana Saag/Chick Pea leaves)

It is during winter when you can have your fill of leafy vegetables. While, nowadays spinach and fenugreek leaves are available all the year round, some leafy vegetables are available only during the winter, chana saag is one of them. In English, I have noticed that any chana is referred to as chickpeas, however, there are different varieties of chana and it is only the leaves of one particular variety that is used for this dish. You may have seen the tender green chanas which are available almost towards the end of winter; it is the tender leaves of this variety which is used for this dish.

My mum used to make this dish every winter. It is a simple dish but very labour intensive. Picking the tiny leaves from the stems is a tiresome process, quite painful, you have to really be in love with the dish to want to do it. I used to help my mum pick the leaves but I never cooked the dish, nor did I see how my mother made it, though I remember that she boiled the leaves before cooking. I never thought that I would ever attempt to make the dish, but this year I decided to try my hand at it, just so that I could post it here.

I remember how the dish that my mother made tasted and keeping that taste in mind I cooked the saag and yes it did turn out absolutely fine, just like my mum’s. I made one mistake, I forgot to take a photograph of the leaves, anyway I saw some images on the internet  and here is link to those images.

I haven’t given any measurements for there is no hard and fast rule in this one, just use your judgement.


  • Chana saag
  • Potatoes
  • Black mustard seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • Green chillies or red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooking oil.
  •  Pick the leaves from the stem, wash them and then boil the leaves. 
  • Winter is the season for baby potatoes, if possible use the baby potatoes or use the usual variety. Boil the potatoes, if using baby potatoes keep them whole, if you are using the usual variety then chop the boiled potatoes into cubes.
  • Heat some cooking oil in a vessel, add some mustard seeds to the oil, once the seeds begin to crackle add the boiled potatoes stir a bit and also add the boiled chana leaves. Stir once again.
  • Add a little turmeric powder, some chopped green chillies or red chilli powder. Since I am averse to green chillies I used Kashmiri red chilli powder.
  • Stir once again add a little water, just enough to help all the spices to blend, if there is any excess water remaining after you have boiled the leaves, you can add that water.
  • Cover and cook till all the water has evaporated, this is a dry dish. 
This goes very well with steamed rice as well as phulka rotis.


  1. Lovely combination of potatoes and spinach. Must have tasted simply delicious and is no doubt a healthy dish.

    1. Thanks Deepa, but this saag is chana saag and not spinach.

  2. Oh, yum. This sounds SO good. The only problem, I have absolutely no patience when it comes to cleaning green leafy vegetables - I even hesitate before buying methi for that reason. And you say this requires a lot of work... hmm. Maybe someday when I have a servant to do all the hard work! ;-)

    But I like the idea of a simple mustard seed tadka or phoran combined with boiled potatoes and a boiled saag. I might try this recipe with another saag as a substitute. Bathua, perhaps, or maybe even methi? In any case, I don't think we get chana saag here in Delhi.

    1. Yes of course you can try it with any other saag, btw what is bathua, is it a type of saag?

    2. Yes, Shilpi. Bathua is a type of saag. I've usually cooked it with sliced onions, and my mother-in-law makes a very nice raita with it.

      More here:

      (This indicates that bathua is generally boiled before being otherwise cooked, so that seems perfect to be used for your recipe! I will try it out. :-))

    3. Thanks Madhu for this interesting info.

  3. Thx for the recipe,
    Just want to know , how to make cholar shaag in the form of dhokar dalna,

    1. I do know how to make dhokar dalna, but I have never heard of cholar shaak in the form of dhokar dalna. It sounds interesting, I guess you could try grinding the cholar shaak with the cholar dal and then steam the mixture. Cut this steamed mixture into squares and then cook it the usual way.