Indian Vegetarian & Vegan

Sarson Ka Saag Recipe

Sarson Ka Saag Recipe. Punjabi Sarson Ka saag is a seasonal recipe prepared using mustard greens(sarson) and fresh spinach. It is one of the most delicious north Indian recipe and is traditionally served with makki ki roti (flatbread made with fine maize flour) gur (jaggery) and onions.

What is Sarson ka Saag?

The term “Saag” translates to greens, and sarson ka saag is pureed mustard greens that are tempered with browned onion, ginger, garlic, tomatoes etc. It is one of those dishes that are homestyle and rustic. The mix of greens used differ from home to home. In my recipe I use a mix of mustard greens, cooking variety(not baby) spinach, daikon(mooli), and bathua(if I can find it in indian stores). I also like using few scallion stalks for a grassy onion flavor.

Ingredients Needed for Sarson Ka Saag

  1. Mustard Greens (Or Rapini Greens)
  2. Cooking Variety Spinach
  3. Daikon (or mooli)
  4. Bathua greens (If you can find, else skip)

In addition to the above greens, you can also add kale, turnip greens or collard greens to the greens mix if you wish. However keep the quantity of mustard and spinach more than any other greens you add .

Selection of Greens for Saag :- Since saag has a prominent flavor of mustard greens, the quality of mustard is very important. My most important tip would be to taste the mustard greens when buying. Tear a small portion of the mustard greens bunch and taste it. Mustard greens are naturally pleasantly bitter sweet , however sometimes the bunch is just not right and bitter mustard will lead to bitter saag. Additionally, choose the greens which look fresh, do not have yellow leaves or spots or holes in them.

Buying Mustard Greens in American Stores :- I have seen curly leaf mustard being sold in the greens aisle of many superstores. It is very different from how sarson leaves look back in India but it tastes just like mustard and does the job! It closely esembles kale, however the color is light green and the stems are very fleshy. I always buy it to make saag. The second option is rapini greens. You will see small broccoli like flowers in its stems and its available again in the greens section. It works quite well as well. If you can find real Indian sarson in Indian stores, lucky you, go for it!

Using mooli (radish) is optional. I love to use a small portion and again if you can find slender mooli at indian stores, please buy those. Else go for the Japanese daikon. Don’t use red radish. Taste the daikon or mooli that you bought before adding. If mooli is smelly and pungent, the taste of saag won’t be good.

How to cook Sarson Ka Saag?

The beauty of saag is in slow cooking. The greens cook slowly in their own juices, the stems soften and the mellow flavors of the tender leaves combines with spices and ginger. Making saag is super easy though picking and preparing the greens is what takes some extra time and effort. One of the ways I ease my workflow is to wash and dry the greens a few hours or a day ahead. Pluck the leaves from the stems of mustard. Peel the skin of stems and roughly chop them discarding very tough ones.You can use spinach stems as it is if they aren’t very fibrous. Wash the greens 4-5 times under water to remove every speck of dirt. Drain, air dry for half an hour or so and store them covered in the fridge until ready to use.

My saag recipe is very simple. During the time when when dad was posted in Chandigarh, Punjab , the cook at that house taught us to make saag the punjabi way. He told us that the saag should taste of greens and not of spices or herbs. And rightly so. I do not use any powdered spices in my recipe. If the quality of saag is good, it tastes great and isn’t heavily spiced.

Add the greens to a large pot. Add daikon, ginger, salt and makki atta. Adding makki atta helps thicken the saag and also imparts a unique velvety consistency to the cooked saag. Ofcourse it tastes great as well. Cook the saag low and slow till the leaves have wilted and completely cooked.

Tempering Sarson Ka Saag

Tempering is where the real taste of the saag comes from. It is the final touch and if you really put effort in making the tempering, the saag will taste hearty and delicious.

For the tempering you will need :-

  1. Mustard Oil, else use ghee
  2. Red Onions, chopped
  3. Fresh ginger, chopped
  4. Garlic, chopped
  5. Green Chillies
  6. Dried chilies
  7. Tomatoes, a little (optional)
  8. Cumin Seeds
  9. Butter, to finish

The flavor of tempering plays an important role in taste of saag. Make it hearty with a tempering made of onions, ginger, green chilies and tomatoes and finsh with butter. Brown the onions well, adds a smoky flavor.

Many people don’t add tomato in the tadka. Feel free to skip it. I like the tartness it adds so I do use a small quantity of tomatoes.

How To Serve Sarson ka Saag?

Sarson Ka Saag is best served with makki ki roti. Makki Ki roti is another winter staple in north India. It is a unleavened flatbread made with fine ground corn (maize flour). As you can see, this is a gluten-free, wholesome and good for you meal. Other things that taste delicious with this saag-makki roti are sliced onions, softened butter, jaggery and radishes. This meal celebrates winter and the produce. It is warming and delicious.
A few helpful notes :-

  1. Keep the saag on a thicker side to begin with. When you blend, if needed add water slowly. It should be lacey yet not overly smooth.
  2. Add a tablespoon or two or maize flour if needed later and cook the saag down if you feel that it is not thick.
  3. For the tempering, you don’t have to chop the onions, tomato etc very fine. Saag is supposed to be chunky.
  4. I personally like finishing saag with ghee as compared to butter(the traditional choice).
  5. The heat of the saag comes mainly from green chilies. You do not need a lot of chilies since mustard greens have that bitter note.
  6. When you cook the onions, do so over low medium heat. They will be sweetish and browned that way. If you rush, they wont get time to develop that caramelized taste.
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Sarson Ka Saag Recipe

Sarson Ka Saag is a seasonal North Indian dish made with winter greens. It is wholesome, easy to make and is served with makki ki roti for a gluten free meal.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4


For Sarson Ka Saag

  • 300 g Mustard Greens
  • 300 g Spinach Greens
  • 100 g bathua greens
  • 1 /2 cup chopped mooli (daikon)
  • 1/4 cup makki atta (maize flour)
  • 1.5 tablespoon fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 4 scallion(spring onion), green & white stalks roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
  • 2 cup water

For Tempering

  • 5-6 tablespoon Mustard Oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3-4 thai bird green chilies, roughly chopped, adjust to taste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • Butter, to finish


Cook the Saag

  • Wash the greens by soaking them in a large pot of water for 5 minutes. Drain and discard the water.Keep repeating until no dirt is visible and water runs clean. Drain, air dry for half an hour or so and proceed to next step. Or store them covered in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Pluck the mustard leaves from the stems. Peel the skin of stems and roughly chop them discarding very tough ones. Roughly tear the mustard and spinach leaves.
  • Add the greens to the pot along with all the ingredients listed under "For Sarson Ka Saag". Cover the pot with a lid.
  • Set the pot on stove and let cook for 25-35 minutes on low medium heat until the greens are cooked through. Alternatively, you can pressure cook the greens for 7-8 minutes and 3-4 whistles.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend the cooked greens to desired consistency. Proceed to tempering the saag.

Tempering the Saag

  • In a wide pan, warm up the mustard oil till lightly smoky.
  • Temper with cumin, dried chilies. Add the chopped onions next and fry them over medium heat until nicely browned.
  • Add the ginger, garlic and green chilies next and saute for a minute or so.
  • Add the tomatoes next and cook until they soften. Dont cook too much. Th tempering needs to be chunky.
  • Add the tempering to the cooked saag. Taste and adjust the salt. Also adjust the consistency as per liking.
  • Return the saag pot to stove, add butter and simmer for 10-12 minutes until its a dark shade of green. Serve.

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