If any one food culture knows how to cook the best vegan and vegetarian food, it is arguably Indian. Vegan and vegetarian cuisine isn’t just a contemporary thing in India – it’s deeply rooted in the culture and religion of the country. There are a myriad dishes that have been popularised worldwide – including staples like dahl and dosas for example.
So to celebrate Veganuary – we’re bringing you a delicious vegan recipe hailing from Punjab, courtesy of Chef Banwari, who’s responsible for the delicious dishes at Karma Haveli in Jaipur. Here it is in Chef Banwari’s own words:
Sarson Ka Saag With Makki Ki Roti
This is a hearty Winter speciality from the North Indian State of Punjab – a super healthy vegan dish that is made with a mix of wilted mustard and other greens (you can adapt depending on what’s available where you live). Sarson ka saag is an all time favourite Punjabi dish. Traditionally it is served with makki ki rote (maize flat bread) and gur (unrefined cane sugar cake). Mustard greens are a Winter and Spring delicacy in Punjab, and the plant’s relative abundance in Punjab and Kashmir has made it one of the most popular dishes in both regions.
In a large pot, combine washed and finely chopped mustard greens, spinach, tumbleweed greens (also known as pigweed, green amaranth, redroot amaranth, careless weed and callaloo) and fenugreek leaves.. Add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. lower the heat and continue to simmer, keep stirring occasionally until the mix is very tender. Mash the greens and mix well to make a coarse paste or run it briefly in a food processor.
Make a paste of the green chillis, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and salt
In a pan, heat the clarified butter, add mustard seeds, wait till the crackle and add the paste. cook for some time on medium heat till the paste is fully cooked (check the aroma to see if the paste is cooked). Add the greens mix to this pan. Stir and mix the greens with the tempering. Add bengal gram flour a small quantity at a time, stirring continuously (as an optional thickening agent). Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and fragrant.
Check the seasoning and add salt if required, serve with a dollop of unsalted or white butter on top and makki ki roti (corn bread) on the side.
Note: Sarson ka saag is the perfect base for adding other ingredients to make the dish more substantial. To keep it vegetarian, add fried cubes of panner (cottage cheese), for non-vegetarian add cooked chicken or lamb.