Sarson Ka Saag | Winter favourite at Home!

Sarson Ka Saag with Makhan and Gurr
Sarson Ka Saag with Makhan and Gurr in my Grandma’s Plate

 As the winter season retreats, I thought of sharing my most cherished memories attached with Sarson ka saag, a winter favourite at my home.

As I have mentioned in the past, my siblings and I were ‘the strange Punjabi kids’ who grew up on Mirchi Bada and Besan ke Gatte. We lived in Jodhpur, a city in Rajasthan known for famous tourist spots like Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan, but more so, for it’s amazing food.

While growing up in Jodhpur, I spent most of my time with my grandparents. Many food bloggers or chefs, are known to have fallen in love with food after spending endless hours in the kitchen with their grandma. However, in my case it was quite the contrary. I didn’t really enjoy my Grandma’s food. I preferred the occasional treats like breadrolls, soups and noodles dished out by my mom, after she would come back from office.

My Grandma on the other hand, would spend endless hours making Mutton curry, lentils or the winter favourite, Sarson Ka Saag. It would always be a grand affair. My Babaji (that’s what I lovingly called my grandfather) would buy huge quantities of all ingredients and then both of them would spend hours together doing mise-en-place. Like most Punjabis, making Sarson Ka Saag was their favourite activity. This would often result in enormous amounts of Saag, enough to feed us for a week.

During Winters, the saag would make its way to our plates, at least once during the day, which was frustrating. I remember, once my Dad coming back home for lunch and getting irritated at the sight of Sarson Ka Saag on his plate – once again! He was frustrated with eating just one thing almost every day of that winter season.

As for me, Sarson Ka Saag was just a green leafy vegetable that had strong flavours of Garlic-Ginger-Chilli, which like most kids, I didn’t fancy at all. Moreover, I never enjoyed the fat, hard to chew and dry Makki Ki Roti that accompanied the saag. And I never really loved makhkhan or ghee, either.

Then, my Grandma passed away and the onus of making Sarson ka Saag, was passed onto my mom, who had managed to learn the recipe by then.

It was during my graduation days, that few of my friends came over to my place, for the winter break. My mom had made Sarson Ka Saag and Makki Ki Roti. I had grown to like veggies by now and had even developed a taste for saag, although I still refrained from having Makki Ki Roti.

My friends loved the Saag and Makki ki Roti and asked for several services. I tried the Makki Ki Roti, which also had methi (fenugreek) and bathua (Chenopodium) and butter on top. To my surprise, it was soft, delicious and it melted in my mouth. Before this first loving encounter with the roti, Sarson Ka Saag never tasted so good. The Garlic-Ginger-Chilli taste of this green leafy vegetable was not just likeable but much more than that. I realised that my mother added some tomato and whole lots of onions, in the tadka of saag. This was very different from my Grandma’s Saag and I loved it!

Since then, my siblings and I, quite literally, fight for that last bowl of saag.

Many Punjabis may not connect with tomato being added to Saag, but then every Punjabi household, has their own recipe for making Sarson Ka Saag. Just like, how a Parsi Dhansak is prepared in different ways in different Parsi households.

My Grandma’s version is actually how Saag is traditionally prepared in most parts of Punjab. It’s unfortunate that when she was around I could never appreciate such flavours, but thankfully she taught my mother well and we feel her essence and love in our favourite food.

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