Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sarson da saag: Mustard Greens



In the US, most goras know saag paneer. However, most would also be surprised to eat a saag (greens) dish at a desi home because desi home cooked saag is very different than the creamy saag paneer one finds at the typical generic Star of India Palace Buffet Punjabi-Mughlai inspired Indian American restaurant. I actually really love the restaurant style saag paneer that I grew up eating at Star of India Palace Buffet. However, the authentic, homestyle saag preparation varieties are also delicious. Allow me to share a simple one:

Mustard greens cooked in the Punjabi style are a winter treat, and loved across the Land of the Five Rivers on both sides of the Indian and Pakistani border. It is July now, but I am not in the Punjab. At Sprouts, I found some beautiful mustard greens that inspired me to make sarson da saag te makki di roti...mustard greens in the Punjabi style, served with cornmeal flat bread. I used HEB brand corn tortillas heated in a pan on the stove as the makki di roti. The Mexican corn tortillas look different, and of course corn tortillas are prepared from corn treated with slaked lime and makki di roti is just a cornmeal roti. But somehow the taste ends up very similar and the tortillas worked well with the mustard greens.

This dish doesn't have a lot of spices and seasonings. It isn't meant to be nose-run inducing hot. The greens are the star of the show here.


Ingredients:
2 lbs or so mustard greens, washed and chopped
1 lb spinach, washed and chopped
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 fresh tomatoes pureed
1 tsp red chile powder (or to taste)
2 tbs finely ground cornmeal/maize flour
4 tbs butter OR butter flavored low fat substitute (I use Olivio Spread)
2 tbs oil for frying
salt to taste


Method:
You boil the mustard and spinach together until it softens, then puree it with some of the cooking liquid. Reserve extra cooking liquid for later (so you don't pour away all of the vitamins, also). 
Now heat the oil and ginger/garlic pastes. When these turn golden, quickly add in the red chile powder, then before it burns, stir in the tomato puree. Cook the tomato puree on high heat for a few moments until the oil rises to the top of it. Now add the mustard green/spinach puree. Mix well, add in a your salt and the cornmeal. Mix well. You will need to add 1 to 1.5 cups or so of the cooking liquid. Then just lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it is done, stir in 3 tbs of your butter or low fat butter substitute. To serve, add shards of butter on top.