Spicy, Indian mustard greens (sarson da saag) recipe

By Anjali Joshi
Published March 1, 2011 1:30AM (EST)

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1½ pounds oriental mustard greens
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped peeled ginger
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped sweet red pepper
  • 2 jalapeños or other hot peppers, deseeded and chopped (optional)
  • 3 to 4 cups of water
  • 1/3 cup finely ground corn flour
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil or ghee, clarified butter
  • 1/3 cup julienned fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup garlic slices
  • 2 to 4 dried red hot peppers (optional/to taste, or use a sprinkle of chili flakes)


  1. Clean, trim and wash the mustard greens in plenty of running water. Wash and drain the spinach. Coarsely chop the mustard greens. If the mustard stems are quite thick, chop those finer.
  2. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a deep pan. Add the chopped mustard greens, baby spinach, chopped ginger, sweet red pepper and hot peppers. Stir and simmer over a low heat, covered, for about an hour or till tender. Stir occasionally while cooking, adding a little more water if required.
  3. When cooked, remove from heat. Drain the greens, reserving the liquid and placing it back into the pan used for cooking. Coarsely purée the greens in a food processor. Add salt to taste.
  4. Whisk the corn flour into the cooking liquid till mixed. Add back the puréed greens. Stir well and allow to cook covered, on a low heat, for about 30-45 minutes till cooked. You'll need to stir the mixture every 15 minutes or so to prevent the purée from scorching on the bottom of the pan.
  5. When cooked, adjust the salt to taste. Remove to a serving dish and keep warm. Heat the oil or butter in a small saucepan. When hot, turn the heat to low, add the dried hot peppers, stir, then add the ginger juliennes. Stir gently and let cook for a minute or two. Then add the garlic slices and cook till the mixture is sizzling and just starting to brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  6. Pour the spiced oil or butter mixture over the cooked greens and cut in gently to distribute the spices into the purée. Serve hot, with a flatbread of your choice.
  7. Handmade thick corn tortillas make a very acceptable substitute for the traditional makke di roti accompaniment. Provide additional butter or ghee at the table, to be used as needed.

Notes: 1) Every family has a favorite way to prepare this mess of mustard greens. This is just how I made it tonight, from sense memory, writing down the ingredients as I went. 2) The red pepper and spinach help to mellow out the pungency of the mustard. Traditionally, a green called "bathua" or lambs' quarters is used with the mustard. 3) Bob's Red Mill makes fine ground corn flour, which works well. It is otherwise known as makki atta, and is readily available in Indian grocery stores. Do not use corn starch. You may use fine-ground cornmeal.

Anjali Joshi

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