• Yield: 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).

Raghavan Iyer is a cookbook author, writer, culinary educator, spokesperson and consultant. He is the author of several cookbooks, including The Tumeric Trail, a 2003 James Beard award finalist for Best International Cookbook. His articles have appeared in publications such as Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, Saveur, Weight Watchers Magazine, Cooking Pleasures and Gastronomica. He received the IACP's Award of Excellence for Cooking Teacher of the Year in 2004, and was a finalist for the 2005 James Beard journalism award. He is co-founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes, Ltd.