Monday, June 12, 2006

A traditional pair for adventurous taste-buds

Makai di roti & Sarson ka saag

Some combinations are well-known and popular in India- Idli-sambar, butter chicken-naan, carrot halwa-vanilla ice cream and of course, Makki di roti & sarson ka saag. This is probably the most famous food-pair in India (a Shahrukh- Kajol kind, if you will) and is sometimes a stereotype when we talk about authentic punjabi dishes.
Ironically, the saag that you get in restaurants as side for makai di roti is a dish wholly made with spinach. You can hardly appreciate the flavor of the roti with the bland palak saag. Saag made with mustard greens is slightly bitter and has much more flavor. This is a classic winter combo but this is the season of fresh sarson, here in California. The frozen mustard greens lack the pungency of fresh greens. So I prepared the traditional combination last week to experience the riches of Punjab's fields. I may not have achieved the taste of the fields (one reason being my use of cornmeal available here) but this was a tasty dinner, nevertheless.

Makki di roti

This is made with corn flour. You can get the flour in Indian stores in US but the age of the flour is suspect. I used cornmeal. You can also use masa from mexican markets. I followed this recipe but used atta instead of plain flour. Making rotis of this stick dough is the hard part. I seem to have got it righ this time (my previous trial was a dismal failure).

Sarson ka saag

Made with three different greens, this dish is very tasty. I have made some versions of this before and this was the most tasty and more similar to what I have had in India.

1 large bunch sarson or mustard leaves (should have 4 cups of leaves)
2 cups palak (spinach)
1/2 cup methi (fenugreek)
4 T makki ka atta (corn pounded into flour)
2 big onions finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 inch ginger
4 green chilies, finely chopped

Pluck mustard leaves, palak and methi leaves from off the stalks. Wash them well in running water. Chop finely. Add finely chopped ginger, chilies and pressure cook it for 2 whistles.

Remove from the fire and pound the saag in the pressure cooker pan till it is well mixed. Put it back on a low flame and gradually add makki ka atta stirring constantly untill all flour is mixed in the saag. Before serving, heat ghee, and brown the garlic, then add onions, fry till they are golden brown. Add tomatoes and cook till a thick puree is formed. Add the saag to it and serve hot with dollops of butter.

This is an early post for Anthony's curry mela- a great round-up of tasty dishes of the week.


  1. Hmmm... delicious looking.

  2. Oh Mika, I have been meaning to try this combo for a while...your version looks delicious and simple.

  3. This is one of my favorites. Traditionally Bathua(Lamb's quarters or Pigweed) is also added to Sarson ka saag but I've never seen it in stores here. Looks like yours turned out well.

  4. Hi Mika,
    This the first time I am commenting on ur blog. Thank u soo much for the recipe..the only time I got to taste this wonderful combo was in Delhi..The Indian restaurants here call it Saag but do a very bad job at it...adding lots of cream and making the dish too bland n heavy. Will try ur recipe room mate got a huge pack of cornmeal confusing it with corn I can put it to use..:-)