Thursday, 2 January 2014

Sarson Bathua Methi and Palak ka Saag (Haryana) - Bala Style



Sarson ka Saag is very popular in North India especially Punjab. However, in Haryana they make Sarson ka Saag with three other greens - Spinach, Fenugreek and Bathua. When I went shopping for the four greens I forgot the names. But I need not have worried as the vendor knew exactly what these would be as it is so common in the region. I was introduced this version by Bala who hails from one of the villages in Gurgaon. She tells me she remembers having it since her childhood, when her grand mother prepared it for the extended family. It was popular then as it is now in her family. Even her mother-in-law concedes Bala’s saag is the best she has had, this must be a first in India as Mother-in-laws rarely praise their daughter-in-laws!

I expect most Indians would have heard of Sarson, Spinach and Fenugreek, but not many would be aware of Bathua (it’s botanical name is Chenopodium album, but some common names in Europe are goosefoot and pigweed). It is often considered a weed, reducing the yield of the main crops dramatically. As Bala’s Grandmother used to say it is God’s gift which comes every year only in the winter, a perfect description of a perennial weed. However, these days it is cultivated in North India for making Saag and raita dishes. It is available only in the winter and such a saag will be relevant for people living in North India as probably it is not available in the other regions of India. If you can get your hands on Bathua, please do try it as it is exceedingly tasty. Bathua can also be used to flavour parathas and making raita.

For this recipe I had to get rather larger quantities as it is difficult to get small bunches in the shops. I could see why Bala’s Grandmother made it for the extended family! It keeps well so you can leave leftovers for another day.

Ingredients:
  • 1 Bunch Sarson (Mustard) ka Saag chopped coarsely
    Sarson Methi & Bathua
  • 1 Bunch Methi (Fenugreek) ka Saag chopped coarsely
  • 1 Bunch Palak (Spinach) ka Saag chopped coarsely
  • 1 Bunch Bathua (Chenopodium album) ka Saag chopped coarsely
  • A Handful of Flour
  • 3 Tomatoes 
  • 6-8 cloves of Garlic
  • 3 inches of Ginger
  • 10-15 Fresh Green Chillis (according to your taste)
  • 2 ½ tsf Salt to taste
  • 1 tsf Chilli Powder
  • 4 tbsf Oil
  • Ghee for tempering
  • 4 cloves of Garlic chopped for tempering

 Method:
  1. In a large pan boil the chopped four greens with a cupful of water. Do not add too much water as all four greens leave water when heated. Once it comes to a boil lower heat and let it simmer for at least an hour or when the greens become very soft. Drain excess water but you do need a little.
  2. Now coarsely grind it in a blender. Do not liquify!
  3. Mix the flour in a cupful of water. Keep it aside.
  4. Coarsely grind the tomatoes, garlic, ginger and green chillis in a blender
  5. In a pan heat the oil and add the tomato, garlic, ginger and green chilli mix and brown it, till oil separates.
  6. Add ground greens and mix well. 
  7. Add salt, chilli powder and mix well.
  8. Bring it to a boil.
  9. Add the flour and mix well again. Now just let it cook stirring it from time to time till the Saag become thick and there is no standing water.
  10. Heat the ghee in a smaller pan and add the chopped cloves till they are brown.
  11. Add the ghee and garlic temper with individual serving rather than in the whole pan! 

Bala made Makki ki Roti to eat the Saag with. You will have to wait for the recipe for Bala’s version of Makki ki Roti, which is one of the finest Makki ki Roti I have had. 

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