Serves 4
Saag means greens; sarson da saag specified mustard greens, and palak da saag is spinach. This flavorful side dish often accompanies hearty whole-wheat griddle breads in Punjab, the wheat-growing capital of India.

Ingredients for Sarson Da Saag - Mustard Greens with Garlic


  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped gingerroot
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing (asafetida) (see Notes)
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh mustard greens, or fresh spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 large tomato, blanched, skinned, and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masaala
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 medium lime

Garam Masaala (makes about 1/4 cup)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seed (removed from pods)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 3 three-inch cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces


1. In a food processor finely mince the onion, gingerroot, and garlic.

2. In a wok or 3-quart saucepan, heat the ghee over medium-high heat; sizzle the hing for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the onion mixture and stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown.

3. Stir in the mustard greens and turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the greens wilt and almost all the liquid leaching from the greens evaporates.

4. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

Garam Masaala

1. In a small, heavy skillet, roast all the spices over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the spices turn one shade darker, start to crackle, and become fragrant.

2. Transfer the roasted spices to a plate to cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Grind in a spice grinder until the mixture has the texture of finely ground black pepper.

3. Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place for up to a month.


  • Hing is a very strong-smelling spice derived from a fennel-like plant. It is sold in brick form in Indian groceries and in powdered form in natural food stores.
  • The slight bitterness of mustard greens provides a complex balance to this earthy dish. Trim off and discard the tough stems before use.
  • You can substitute spinach leaves for a smoother, less bitter flavor, or use a combination of the two greens.
  • To blanch a tomato, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer the tomato for 2 to 3 minutes until the skin starts to tear. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool until easy to handle. Core the tomato and slip its skin off easily with a paring knife or your bare hands.

Adapted from The Turmeric Trail: Recipes and Memories from an Indian Childhood by Raghavan Iyer (St. Martin's Press, 2002).