By Jaideep Sarin
In Punjab’s food culture, the prominent names that come to mind whenever Punjabi gourmet is mentioned are tandoori chicken and butter chicken. But one thing that remains evergreen, literally, is the traditional Punjabi dish of sarson da saag with makki di roti.
Come winter and every Punjabi household, eateries and most roadside dhabas have their fill of this iron-rich, calorie rich dish. In many households, the dish becomes a staple diet for the winter – a thing that can be had any time – be it breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The dish is made from sarson or mustard leaves to which smaller quantities of paalak (spinach) and bathu (wild spinach) are added. The sarson leaves are washed properly before being shredded and then pressure-cooked. The flavour of the dish comes from the Tadka, which is an art itself and has to be good.
The saag dish is not complete without dollops of butter – be it the home-made white butter or the salted one. One does not have to be calorie-conscious to savour this Punjabi delight. The dish is served with makki di roti, made from corn flour, which makes it a complete package.
“In winters, people love to have sarson da saag and makki di roti. A majority of farmers grow mustard in the fields along with the wheat crop. In rural areas, the dish is very popular,” farmer Swaran Singh of Fatehgarh Sahib district told IANS.
He and other farmers bring their sarson produce to markets and Chandigarh and adjoining places to sell.
“I love to have sarson da saag and makki di roti during winter. Nothing can beat it,” Manjeet Paintal, a resident of Sector 11 in Chandigarh, said.
The rest, as they say, can only be savoured and not be written in words.
Mustard leaves (stems peeled) 1.5 kg
Spinach – 300 gm
Wild spinach (bathu) – 200 gm
Corn flour – 50 gm (for saag)
Corn flour – 300 gm (for 6 rotis)
Green chillies (4-5) or as per taste
Garlic – 20 cloves
Onions – 2 medium size
Ginger – 100 gm
Turmeric – A teaspoon
Water – 1 cup
Wash and clean the mustard leaves, spinach and wild spinach. Cut finely. Stems of mustard have to be peeled before cutting.
Pressure cook these for one hour approximately. Put in ginger and 10 garlic cloves along with the leaves. Let it cool for some time.
Take out the mixture and put it in a blender with 50 gm of corn flour and churn for 30 seconds. Mixture should remain a little lumpy.
Heat oil/ghee in deep frying vessel. Put 10 cloves of finely chopped garlic. When brown, add finely chopped unions and green chillies. When onions turn dark golden, add the saag mixture, salt (to taste) and turmeric.
Add red chilly powder (optional).
Let it cook for 30 minutes till it comes to required consistency to eat.
Serve steaming hot with melted ghee (clarified butter), home-made butter or salted butter.
Served with corn flour rotis.