Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sarson Ka Saag (Mustard Leaves)

In my post on Yam in a Bowl, I did mention that I had cooked Sarson Ka Saag this winter. I know summer has set in but I feel it would be a pity not to post it particularly when the video is ready.

I love Sarson Ka Saag. Mustard is widely grown in the north of India and also in the eastern parts of the country. It is not surprising therefore that mustard oil is the primary cooking medium in Bengal and of course in the other states located in the east. Bengalis are therefore not unfamiliar with mustard leaves or shorsher shaak as we Bengalis call it. The way Bengalis prepare shorsher shaak is quite different from the way North Indians prepare Sarson Ka Saag. I have a vague idea of the way it is prepared, my mum used to make it quite often.

My mum used to also cook the leaves the way North Indians do, however she often felt something was missing, so she sought help from our Punjabi neighbour, this lady informed my mum that they use makai ka atta (maize flour) as a thickening agent. She also gave my mother a tip; she said if makai ka atta is not handy then it could be substituted with besan, that is chickpea flour. 

Below is the video of me cooking Sarson Ka Saag and a detailed recipe.

If you are unable to open the video embedded above click on this URL:

  • One bunch mustard leaves
  • ½ bunch spinach leaves
  • One teaspoon ginger paste
  • One onion finely chopped
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon garlic paste
  • 3 to 4 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • A little turmeric powder
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons of coriander and cumin seed mix powder
  • Green chilli paste or red chilli powder according to your taste
  • One thinly sliced tomato for garnish
  • Salt to taste
  • Approximately 3 to 4 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • About ½ a teaspoon of garam masala powder


Boil the mustard leaves and the spinach. Grind them to a paste.

Heat oil, if you are not counting calories you could use pure ghee (clarified butter) instead of oil or a bit of both.

Add the chopped onion and fry till it is a little brown.

Add ginger-garlic paste and stir.

Add turmeric powder, coriander and cumin mix powder, and green chilli paste and red chilli powder; the red chilli powder is optional.

Fry the masala well and then add a little water. Use the water left over from the boiled leaves. Cover and cook for a while.

Add the paste of spinach and mustard leaves.

Add salt to taste. Cover and cook.

Meanwhile either dry roast a small quantity (about a tablespoon) of maize flour (makai ka atta) or chickpea flour (besan). Add a little water to this roasted flour and make a paste, add this to the mustard leaves.

When you see the water evaporating and the gravy beginning to thicken, add a little garam masala powder before switching off the flame.

Pour out in a serving dish and garnish with thinly sliced tomatoes.


  1. Ah. That sounds delicious! I have never tried making sarson ka saag myself, but my mother-in-law makes it beautifully. She always finishes it off with a tempering of onions, tomatoes and chopped ginger fried in mustard oil.

    1. I think I will try out your mom-in-law's tempering but maybe make it a little sinful by using pure ghee instead of mustard oil.

    2. Yes, I think that would taste even better with ghee!

    3. Well next winter I am going to try it.

  2. Saag in Punjab is always mixed some leaves that are sold along with it - called bathua leaves. Like a kilo of saag will be made with a substantial bunch of bathua.

    My Mum's saag is famous among firends and family, and one of the main tricks is "ghotna": adding the maize flour a little at a time and mashing and working it in. Traditional there was a wooden implement to do this, but you could use a potato masher. Texture does not have to become too smooth. This step takes time, and less tasty saag is when most people can't be bothered to make the effort to do this properly.

    The tarka is only green chillies and onion. Slices of fresh ginger soaked in vinegar are served alongside.

    I think to substitute besan would substantially change the character of the dish. Tomatoes are a big no-no!

    1. Sorry for the delayed response. Thanks for all the info.Well I like the flavour of tomatoes in the saag therefore I always garnish it with slices of tomato.

  3. By the way, whenever something is going to take a big effort to do it is called "saag ghotna" in Punjabi!

    1. The word ghotnasounds very much like the Bengali word for some veg and non-veg preparations ghonto

    2. Connections (or coincidences) everywhere :)!