It’s getting warmer and the spinach, radish and fenugreek in our garden is growing at dramatic speed. All these leafy greens have to be eaten fast now before they start flowering.
In India a big variety of leafy greens is eaten and every region has their own recipes for them. You probably have eaten Palak Paneer, which is the best known and tamest of leafy green dishes. More rough, wild and multifaceted is the Punjabi Sarson ka Saag. It’s a hearty, spicy puree from mustard, spinach and other leaves. Eaten with a lot of ghee and rustic corn flatbreads, it warms the belly much better than any green smoothie!
You might not be able to source mustard leaves, but you can also cook a delicious version of it with other leafy greens. In my experience it is only important to use at least 3 different greens for a more layered flavour. I also use a bit of raw mustard oil at the end to give it more kick. You cold use spinach, arugula, radish leaves, parsley, coriander, cress, dandelion, kale or chard leaves.
It maybe sounds a bit complicated to source all these greens, but it’s fun to get creative here. You can really mix it up and don’t need to worry which greens you use. Greens mellow down after cooking and blend together nicely.
Leafy Greens Punjabi Style
About 4 portions.
- 1 kilo mixed greens
- 2 onions, chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 piece ginger (ca. 3 cm), grated
- 2 green chillis
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of native mustard oil
Clean and wash the mixed greens very well. I like to swish them around several times in a big bowl full of cold water to make sure all earth and sand is removed. Keep aside.
Put 1 tablespoon of ghee in a pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the onions. Fry for 10 minutes till the onions are cooked and starting to brown.
Fill a very big pan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add some of the greens in the pot and blanch for 2 - 3 minutes. Takes the cooked leaves out with kitchen tongs or something similar and keep aside. Repeat till all greens are cooked. Keep the cooking liquid.
Add the cooked greens, onions, garlic, ginger, chillis, chilli powder and paprika powder (if using) into a blender. Add a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid and blend into a chunky puree.
Add salt to taste and return the puree to a pot. Cook the puree for 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir regularly. If it gets too thick add some of the cooking liquid. Once it is cooked add the mustard oil.
Serve with a generous dollop of ghee or butter. It tastes best served with fresh flatbreads.