Punjabi mustard greens

Punjabi mustard greens

I Love India
Martin Poole

Mention sarson ka saag to any self-respecting Punjabi and they will become nostalgic about the last time they ate it. I didn’t grow up in the villages of Punjab, but even I get transported to open fields of mustard greens, yellow cornmeal breads and fresh, homemade white butter… It is rich, so we don’t eat it often – mostly for Sunday lunch so that there is time to digest it over the afternoon! I couldn’t write a book of my favourite Indian recipes without it. You may not find all the greens you need for an authentic flavour, but you can find fresh mustard greens and a can of all the greens mixed together. This is normally served with cornmeal bread, but you can try it with Missi Roti or Flaky Malab – or even hot cornmeal tortillas with butter on them!


Quantity Ingredient
450g mustard leaves, stalks removed
150g large leaf spinach, stalks removed
3 tablespoons ghee
or 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 small red onions, finely chopped
25g finely grated root ginger, (peeled weight)
6 large garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
450g can of sarson ka saag, (see introduction above)
11/2 teaspoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon jaggery or brown sugar, or to taste
knob butter, to serve
julienned root ginger, to serve


  1. Boil the fresh greens for 10–20 minutes, until wilted. (In the Punjab they would be cooked for the longer time.)
  2. Meanwhile, heat the ghee, or butter and oil, in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the onions and a little salt and sauté until browning, around 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the ginger and garlic pastes and continue to sauté until these are cooked and colouring; another 1–2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté for 5–6 minutes, then follow with the spices and a little more seasoning and cook until the masala releases oil into the pan, around 10 further minutes over a medium heat, stirring often.
  3. While the tomatoes are cooking, blend the cooked greens until smooth and add to the cooked tomatoes along with the contents of the can. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the cornmeal and jaggery and cook for another couple of minutes, then serve with a little knob of butter, sprinkled with the julienned ginger.
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