Discover Secrets of Indian home food


Sarson ka Saag

Growing up this was a true labour of love, and a process spread across a couple of days (fear not technology has moved us on to expedite this). It conjures certain memories for me, my grandparents would pick the mature spinach/saag grown in the garden, then the kitchen sink would be full of saag and thoroughly cleaned as part of the preparation – you couldn’t move for spinach!

My sister and I would have a hand in chopping this occasionally but grandmother would take the lead, using a fearsome looking device called a daat, imagine a foot scythe, a wooden block with a menacingly sharp curved blade at the front. She’d slice a whole host of different food items with this most dexterously. We didn’t have stick blenders back then either, so once all of the greens were cooked this had to be pounded with a huge wooden pestle. It was a rigorous work out!

The funniest thing about saag is that spinach is NOT the only ingredient, it’s a whole medley of green vegetables which to my mind makes this a SUPERFOOD!


  • 250g spinach
  • x1 leek
  • half a head of broccoli
  • 500g Brussels sprouts
  • half a savoy cabbage
  • 100g kale (de-stalked)
  • 100g spring greens
  • 50g fresh fenugreek leaves/methi (or a tablespoon of dried if you don’t have this)
  • 20g coriander leaves
  • 30g grated garlic
  • 30g grated ginger
  • 2 tsp minced chillies (or to taste)
  • 1-2 heaped tbsp fine cornmeal
  • 3-4 tsp sea salt or to taste
  • approx 1.5 litres of water

For the Tarka

  • 30g butter
  • x1 large brown onion, finely sliced half moon
  • 1 and a half tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, grated
  • minced chillies (to taste)
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Prep Time:
25 minutes
Cooking Time:
2-3 hours
Cook’s Tip:

You can split the prep for this, make the saag at the weekend and freeze. All you have to do is defrost & make the fresh tarka for a mid week meat-free indulgence!

Serving Suggestion:

Serve with parathas. The saag is so virtuous you can balance with a little of something naughty...


1. Chop and slice your green veg as appropriate. Make use of your food processor. You will need a large receptacle to place your chopped veg into.

2. Take a large lidded saucepan, at least 28cm diameter and deep. Bring 1.5 litres of water to the boil.

3. Chuck in the ginger, garlic, chillies and salt, then all of the chopped greens in stages. You may need to smush all of this down into the boiling water, as there will be quite a volume. Don’t be tempted to add more water at this point as the salt will draw water out remember. Once all of the greens are submerged, and at boiling point, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1 and  half to 2 hours; or until the largest pieces melt between finger and thumb.

4. You will need to tend for a while. Don’t allow the pan to run dry and catch, you can add more water. Likewise if you’ve added too much water you can remove but don’t discard; as you can replenish as it reduces during the cooking process.

5. Add and mix in the fine cornmeal. Take off the heat, and blend with a stick blender until smooth or to a consistency you are happy with. Test your seasoning you’ll then know what to compensate for in the tarka.

6. You can add a little more water as necessary – you may not need to – then put the saag back on the hob so the cornmeal can cook out for 10-15 minutes. Careful it will spit so replace the lid! Stir. Set aside.

7. The finish is in sight, time for the tarka, This has to be in butter. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add a little splash of oil which will prevent the butter from burning. Saute the cumin, onions, garlic, and chillies (in that order), once the onions are softened check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. The saag can take a fair bit of chillies. Add half of the saag from the big saucepan to the tarka and mix through. (You can freeze the other half).  Then let it simmer for a couple of minutes to intertwine. Sprinkle liberally with chopped coriander and mix. See how vibrant the coriander looks. Now taste, and adjust the seasoning as required. Serve with an extra knob of butter & devour immediately!