Winters and Sarson ka Saag, Benefits, Recipe

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Winters and Sarson ka Saag, Benefits, Recipe

What exactly is sarson ka saag?

In English, Sarson is identified as mustard greens, and the term saag is commonly associated with a spiced curry crafted from greens. So, Sarson ka saag essentially translates to a spiced mustard greens curry. This culinary delight comes to life during the winter season when Sarson leaves flourish abundantly in Punjab, gracing both Pakistan and India. Alternately known as Sarson da saag, Sarhon Da Saag, or Punjabi saag, this dish takes mustard greens, which can be somewhat bitter on their own, and harmoniously blends them with other greens like Bathua (Chenopodium or pigweed), spinach, methi (fenugreek leaves), and turnip leaves to achieve a well-balanced flavor profile.

Sarson saag is a subtly spiced curry, allowing the natural green flavors to shine through.

While some might initially find it slightly bitter due to the inherent pungency of mustard greens, when prepared with precision, this curry boasts a delightful taste that transcends its dull green appearance (resembling Mehendi). Sarson da saag isn’t just a culinary delight; it’s a wholesome addition to a healthy lifestyle. Bursting with antioxidants and essential vitamins such as A, C, K, and E, along with valuable phytonutrients, this dish stands out as a commendable source of dietary fiber and iron.

The Benefits of Sarson ka Saag

Rich in Antioxidants: Abundant in vitamins K, A, E, and C, it also packs manganese and folate, effectively combating free radicals.

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Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The dish contains compounds, including vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to a rich anti-inflammatory experience, reducing the risk of cancer, heart issues, and other diseases.

Detoxification Powerhouse

The greens’ high antioxidant content aids in natural body detoxification, eliminating toxins and promoting effective waste elimination.

Cancer Prevention

Recognized for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics, mustard leaves play a role in reducing the risk of cancers related to the bladder, colon, breast, lungs, and ovaries.

Asthma Relief

For asthmatic individuals producing histamine, the vitamin C properties in mustard greens assist in breaking down this inflammatory chemical.

Heart Health

These leafy greens contribute to lowering cholesterol levels and provide a rich source of folate, preventing homocysteine accumulation, a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

Weight Management

Featuring spinach, bathua, and soya greens, all high in dietary fiber, this dish keeps you full for extended periods, aiding in weight regulation.

Immunity Boost

Mustard leaves’ vitamin C content offers immunity-boosting properties, safeguarding against seasonal and viral infections. The leaves fortify the body, prevent cell damage, and act as a shield against various diseases.

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How to Prepare Sarson ka Saag?

  • Begin by cleaning the greens meticulously, removing any mud or dirt, and chopping them roughly. Cook the greens with ginger, garlic, green chili, salt, and water until they become tender.
  • Traditionally, these greens were cooked on the stovetop in a large pot or earthen pots until soft, then crushed to a coarse texture using a Mathani or ghotni (wooden whisk beater).
  • In modern times, pressure cook the greens and puree them to a smooth or slightly coarse texture using a hand blender or regular blender. A slightly coarse paste is often preferred.
  • Simmer the pureed saag until it thickens, adding Makki atta (corn flour or maize flour) to aid in thickening and add flavor.
  • Finish with a tadka made in ghee, incorporating onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, and spices. The result is a deliciously prepared Saag ready to be savored!

Recipe Ingredients

Ingredients for Sarson ka Saag presented in bowls on a white surface in below picture.

 

For Saag – Mustard greens combined with other greens like collard, spinach, and turnip leaves, garlic cloves, ginger, green chilies, and salt.

Traditionally used greens include Sarson (mustard greens), Bathua (Chenopodium or pigweed), methi leaves (fenugreek), turnip leaves (or radish leaves), and spinach (palak).

The ratio of other greens combined with mustard greens is usually 1:1.

Fresh Mustard greens bunch is available in most grocery stores like Walmart and sprouts.

For other greens, use baby spinach along with a mixed bag of greens (from Walmart) or a blend from Trader Joe’s, which includes mustard greens, collard greens, and turnip greens.

For Tadka – A basic Punjabi tadka of onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, and spices made in ghee. Spices include red chili (whole and powder), hing, garam masala, and coriander powder.

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Step-by-Step Method

1) To Pressure Cook the Saag

Steps to cook sarson ka saag (mustard greens) and grinding into a coarse paste

Remove the thick portion of the stems and wash the greens thoroughly, chopping them roughly.

Add the greens along with garlic, ginger, green chilies, salt, and ¼ cup of water. Pressure cook in a pressure cooker, Instant Pot, or stovetop.

2) Pressure cooker

Cook on high heat until the first whistle, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes before turning off the heat. Allow the steam to release naturally.

Instant Pot

Seal the lid and set to manual (pressure cook) high mode, cooking for 5 minutes, then allow for natural release.

Stovetop Method

Alternatively, you can prepare it in a pot on the stovetop for 30 minutes, partially covered, stirring intermittently until thoroughly cooked.

3 – After the steam escapes/pin drops, open the pressure cooker/Instant Pot. The cooked greens should have softened, reduced in size, changed color from bright green to dull, and achieved a tender, well-done consistency.

4 – You can either mash them using a Mathani (which takes time and more effort) or use a hand blender (as I did, an easier method) to achieve a smooth or slightly coarse texture. I personally prefer a slightly coarse paste. If using a regular blender, allow it to cool completely before pureeing.

While the saag is pressure cooking, prepare the tadka.

To Prepare the Tadka (Tempering)

Steps for making tadka (tempering) for sarson ka Saag

5 – Heat ghee in a pan, add the red chilies (broken in half or kept whole for less heat), hing (asafoetida), sauté for a few seconds, and add the onions. Cook until the onions are soft.

Add the ginger-garlic and cook until the onions turn golden brown.

6 – Stir in the tomatoes and cook covered until the tomatoes soften for approximately 5 minutes.

7 and 8 – Add the spices and cook until the masala is well-cooked (soft) for 2-3 minutes and starts oozing ghee from the sides.

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To Finalize Sarson Ka Saag

Adding maize flour and tadka tempering to the pressure-cooked saag to make sarson ka saag

9 – Start the Instant Pot on sauté mode (low) (after pureeing the saag) or transfer the saag to a heavy-bottomed pot. Add Makki atta and mix until smooth.

10 – Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent the saag from sticking to the bottom. It will thicken as it simmers.

11 – Once the saag has thickened (to your liking), add the tadka and mix well. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

12 – Sarson ka saag is ready!! It will thicken as it sits, so adjust the consistency with water before serving.

In Conclusion

Sarson ka saag, a spiced mustard greens curry, is a winter delicacy abundant in Punjab, Pakistan, and India. While mustard greens can be bitter on their own, they are expertly balanced with other greens like Bathua, spinach, methi, and turnip leaves. This mildly spiced curry, though dull in color, is a delicious and healthy dish rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, K, and E, along with beneficial phytonutrients, dietary fiber, and iron.

Beyond its flavors, Sarson ka Saag offers a myriad of health benefits, making it a nutritional powerhouse. From being rich in antioxidants that eliminate free radicals to having anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of various diseases, including cancer and heart issues, this seasonal dish proves to be a holistic addition to one’s diet.

Additionally, its detoxifying qualities, cancer prevention attributes, asthma relief, heart health promotion, weight loss support, and immune system boost make it a must-have during the winter season. To prepare this wholesome dish, a meticulous process involves cleaning, cooking, and tempering, resulting in a delectable and nutritious Sarson ka Saag ready to be savored.

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