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Mustard greens curry flavor in Sikh kitchen
Using a giant cooking pot, Partap Singh, the main cook at the Tierra Buena Sikh Temple, can make a thousand or more servings of sarson ka saag, a vegetarian curry made with mustard greens.
“A lot of people admire his cooking,” Tejinder Singh Dosanjh, one of the directors at the temple, said of Singh’s culinary works. “He can make 10 different dishes in the time it takes to make the saag. It takes time.”
Singh has worked inside the temple’s kitchen for 13 years. When preparing the time-heavy saag at the temple kitchen, he uses an industrial-sized, hand-held food processor to blend the ingredients.
When it gets time to add the corn flour to the mix to thicken it, Dosanjh suggests sprinkling it on top, slowly, rather than adding it all at once.
“Once it gets cooked in, make it more tasty by adding garlic, ginger, onion, salt and pepper and chili,” Dosanjh said.
Singh said that part of the cooking process – adding spices at the end – is the secret to making the saag taste good.
Dosanjh also suggests making saag more flavorful by adding spinach or broccoli. The Indian tradition is to serve the saag with butter, he said.
“The mustard has iron in it; it’s good for health,” Dosanjh said.
Karin Vastola of Yuba City is a friend of the temple and said she comes to the gurdwara to meditate and to eat. Saag made in the temple kitchen is among her favorite dishes.
“To me, it nourishes the soul. I eat it all day long. It has its very own distinct flavor,” Vastola said.
Sunita Nakhwal, owner of Punjab Bazaar in Yuba City, said there are different varieties of mustard greens – including Indian and Asian – but that any kind can be used to make saag.
Dosanjh said most saag dishes are made with Indian mustard, also called Desi mustard, and reccomends using the stems from the mustard greens for the dish. However, he said, saag shouldn’t be made with wild mustard because it leaves a bitter taste.
“You want to make sure the plants are tender,” Dosanjh said.
The dish is typically served with makki ki roti, a Punjabi flatbread made with corn flour.
This recipe for saag combines spinach and mustard green leaves.
- 1 bunch spinach, washed and chopped fine (approximately 1⁄2 pound)
- 1 bunch mustard greens, washed and chopped fine (approximately 1⁄2 pound)
- 2 green chillies
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger or paste
- 1 tablespoon grated garlic or paste
- Salt, to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 large onion, grated
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
- Juice of 1⁄2 a lime or lemon
- 1 tablespoon bengal gram flour/maize flour
Mix the greens, green chillies and salt to taste and boil in 1 cup of water until cooked. Mash the greens, mixing well to make a course paste. (This can be done with a hand-held food processor.)
In another pan, heat the ghee over a medium flame. When hot, add the grated onion and fry until pale golden.
Add all the other ingredients and fry until the oil separates from the masala (onion-spice mix).
Add the greens mix to this and stir till blended.
Garnish with a dollop of butter and serve with makki ki roti.
Source: Recipe courtesy of About.com