This post will teach you how to make authentic Punjabi-style Sarson Ka Saag (Mustard Greens & Spinach Curry) at home. This recipe includes Instant Pot and stovetop cooking instructions, plus substitutions if you can’t find mustard greens. Ready in under 1-hour, it’s a terrific vegetarian curry. Tested to perfection!

Imagine having to stop yourself from eating 1.5 pounds of greens. That’s Saag. You’d think it’d be bitter or even an acquired taste. But really, all you need is a bite and it just hits differently. Scoop it up with Makai ki Roti (cornmeal flatbread) on a chilly evening and you’ll know why it’s Punjab’s iconic meal

WHAT IS SAAG, PARTICULARLY SARSON KA SAAG?

The word Saag simply means vegetable greens. In context, Saag is used to describe stewed or puréed greens. Any type of greens can be used in Saag, but mustard greens (called Sarson) are the most common in Pakistan and India.

In Punjabi cuisine, Sarson Ka Saag (or Sarson Da Saag) is often paired with flaky cornmeal flatbread (makai ki roti).

I learned how to make saag from my mother-in-law. She was visiting when I saw mustard greens at a farmer’s market, and I knew my collection of Punjabi recipes was to get a welcome addition.Also try our EASY AND SPICY SHAMI KABAB

NOTES ON THE INGREDIENTS OF SARSON KA SAAG

This Saag recipe requires just 11 ingredients, 12 if you must count salt

Sarson-Ka-Saag
Sarson-Ka-Saag
  • Mustard Greens – The star ingredient here. You can use fresh bunches, pre-packaged, or even frozen. Scroll below to learn more about mustard greens, where you can find them, and what other greens you can use in place of them.
  • Spinach – Spinach is almost always used in Sarson Ka Saag and helps offset the bitterness of mustard greens.
  • Green Chili Peppers – Because Saag is made without many spices, a good amount of green chili peppers are used to give heat and flavor. You can use Serrano or Thai chili peppers.
  • Garlic – My mom-in-law doesn’t include garlic, but I found most traditional recipes use it. Plus, I tested & preferred it with the garlic.
  • Turmeric Powder – The only spice you’ll need. Like Baingan Bharta, Saag doesn’t need many spices, and gets its complexity from the method of preparation and a good dose of tadka (tempering).
  • Yellow corn flour – Used to thicken the saag. Corn flour is finer than cornmeal, but you can also use cornmeal if it’s finely ground. I found coarse, stone ground cornmeal to be gritty in Saag. Chickpea/gram flour (besan) is a perfectly good substitute, and I’ve even used masa harina with good results.
  • Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Methi) – I use dried methi but fresh would be a great, albeit hard to find, substitute. (Use leftover methi in Mixed Vegetable Curry or Butter Chicken!)
  • Oil & Ghee/Butter – I love blending oil and ghee or butter for the tadka but you can easily make it vegan by omitting it.
  • Ginger – A good dose of ginger adds a beautiful flavor without overpowering the Saag. Instead of crushing the ginger, finely chop or mince it so it doesn’t clump up in the tadka.
SARSON KA SAAG

SARSON KA SAAG

Here’s a quick & easy Sarson Ka Saag (Mustard Greens & Spinach Curry) recipe made in the authentic Punjabi style. This recipe includes Instant Pot and Stovetop instructions plus substitutions if you can’t find mustard greens. Naturally vegetarian and vegan optional. Tested to perfection!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course lunch
Cuisine Punjabi
Servings 4 People
Calories 237 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 wooden spoon

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup (2 cups for Stovetop) water for Instant Pot
  • 2  bunches (~1 lb after stemming or 454g/16 oz packaged ) mustard greens*, washed, hard stems removed, and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch (~1/2 lb after stemming) spinach , washed, hard stems removed, and roughly chopped
  • 4 small (~4-5 g) green chili peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 5  garlic cloves, leave whole – will be crushed later
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 11/2 tsp heaped kosher salt
  • ¼ cup yellow corn flour or fine ground cornmeal, or sub chickpea flour (besan) or masa harina
  • 11/2 tbsp  dried fenugreek leaves (methi)

Tadka (Tempering)

  • ¼ cup neutral oil
  • 3 tbsp ghee or butter, or sub more oil
  • 1  small (~150-190 g) onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp  ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)
  •  butter, optional, for serving

Instructions
 

  • Add water to Instant Pot, followed by the mustard greens, spinach, green chili peppers, garlic, turmeric, and salt. No need to mix. Secure the lid, seal the vent, and pressure-cook on High Pressure for 20 minutes. Allow pressure to naturally release for at least 5 minutes, and then manually release remaining pressure. Press Cancel to turn off the Instant Pot.
  • Open the lid and stir the saag, crushing garlic cloves as you mix. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend into a rough purée. If you see any tough stems, remove them.
  • Select Sauté and set the temperature to High. Add corn flour and cook for 3-5 minutes to remove the floury taste. Add the dried fenugreek leaves (methi) and stir to mix.
  • Add ½ cup water and stir until the water absorbs in the Saag. Taste and add salt, if needed. If it thickens too much, add another ¼ cup of water to thin it out. Select Cancel to turn off the Instant Pot.**
  • Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, ghee, and onion. Sauté until the onions are deep golden (~6-8 min). Add ginger and sauté for another minute. Stir this tadka into the saag and mix to combine. Garnish with cilantro and give it a stir. Serve with makai (corn) or regular roti, corn tortilla, naan, or other bread. Top with a pat of butter, if desired.

Stovetop

  • Heat a (preferably nonstick) 5 qt Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the mustard greens, spinach, green chili peppers, garlic, turmeric, and salt along with 2 cups of water. No need to mix. Cover and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
  • Turn off the heat. Uncover and stir the saag, crushing garlic cloves as you mix. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend into a rough purée. If you see any tough stems, remove them.
  • Turn the heat back on to medium-high. Add corn flour and cook for 3-5 minutes to remove the floury taste. Add the dried fenugreek leaves (methi) and stir to mix. Taste and add salt, if needed.
  • Reduce the heat to low-medium, add ½ cup water, and proceed to tadka. Stir occasionally. If needed, add another ¼ cup of water to thin it out.
  • Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, ghee, and onion. Sauté until the onions are deep golden (~6-8 min). Add ginger and sauté for another minute. Stir this tadka into the saag and mix to combine. Garnish with cilantro and give it a stir. Serve with makai (corn) or regular roti, corn tortilla, naan, or other bread. Top with a pat of butter, if desired.

Video

Notes

*See post for mustard greens substitutions.
**If you’d like, you can turn the Instant Pot on Saute – Less while the onions are browning so the saag stays hot. Any bits on the bottom of the Instant Pot will be deglazed when the tadka is added.
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