Food and culture | From a kitchen in Punjab

In rural Punjab and Haryana, ‘ Sarson Ka Saag ‘ and ‘ Bajra Khichdi’  is a staple in winters as it keeps you warm throughout the day. Since, both Haryana and Punjab are agricultural states, they grow the maximum amount of Sarson (Mustard) in the country, which is used in oils, and the leaves are used in households. Farmers usually eat these for breakfast as it keeps you full for a longer time when working in fields.

Every household has their own way of making this dish. Even 50 years ago, this was cooked in earthen pots in earthen ovens with cow dung cakes as fuel for 4 hours for it to get the authentic flavour. Now mostly this is made of hobs and gas flames.


  • Saag 0.5 kg (mustard leaves)

  • Bathua 250 gms  (Chenopodium )

  • Palak 150 gms (spinach)

  • Masoor dal 50 gms (red lentils) (alternatively use chickpea lentils or black lentil)

  • Salt 1 tablespoon

  • Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon 

  • Chopped onions 1cup

  • Garlic 1 tablespoon

  • Green Chili 6- 7

  • Ginger 1 cup

  • Coriander powder 1 teaspoon

  • 2 tomatoes chopped

  • Cumin seeds 1 Tablespoon

  • Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon

  • Black pepper Pinch

  • Cow ghee 2 tablespoons (alternatively butter)

  • Bajra grains 1 cup (pearl millet)

  • Moth ki daal 0.5 cup (Vigna aconitifolia is a drought-resistant legume)

  • Salt 2-tablespoon

  • Cow Ghee 2 tablespoons (alternatively butter)

  • Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon

  • Onion 1 cup

  • Ginger 1 teaspoon

  • Green chillies 2- 3

  • Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon


Sarson ka saag:

Mustard leaves, ‘bathua’ and Spinach leaves need to be washed 3 times in fresh water. Chop them for the bulk to be smaller and take a heavy bottom vessel with water enough to immerse the leaves. Add salt and turmeric powder with red lentils to the leaves in the vessel.

Now cover the vessel with lid. After one boil let the ‘Saag’ cook on low heat for 2 hours.  Keep looking for the water to evaporate completely. Lentils and leaves should be completely soft. Let it cool on room temperature for 30 minutes. To achieve a mashed texture, we will need to blend the leaves and lentils with a hand blender or even a chopper.

Take a pan and add ghee. After the ghee is hot add cumin seeds, chopped garlic and ginger. Sautee for a min and then add chopped onion and green chilli. Sautee till onions turn golden brown and then add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and finally chopped tomatoes or (alternative puree).  Now add the mashed ‘Saag’ to the mixture. Cook together for 5 minutes. Serve with hot chapatti.

Khichdi :

Soak ‘Bajra’ overnight to cook the next day. Take a heavy bottom vessel and put one-cup ‘bajra’ and half cup ‘moth daal’ and 1 full spoon salt.  Now add 7.5 cups of water. Bring to boil and now lower the heat and let it cook for 1 hour. Every 15 minutes, stir this mixture for it to reach a mashed texture. Check if the grain is now soft, or else add another cup of water.

Take another pan, put ghee and cumin seeds, chopped ginger, chopped green chilli, and onions. After the onions are golden brown add red chilli powder. Finally, add ‘Bajra khichdi’ to this before serving.

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