curried spinach and mustard greens (sarson ka saag)

I have this thing with Indian food.

I’m head over heels in love with it. Thick daal over basmati rice… bright, colorful spices… vegetables simmering in tomato sauces… I get a little woozy when I see it, and I sing Taylor Swift songs about it when I don’t have it.

It’s a complicated relationship. First of all, some of my friends don’t approve. Preston, for one, refuses to be dragged to any restaurant that has “Bombay” or “Tandoori” or “Curry” in the name. So I’m forced to keep my love affair with Indian food a covert one, sneakily buying fresh ginger and turmeric when no one’s watching. Secondly, when I make Indian food at home, it never tastes like the Indian food other people make. It’s either too spicy or too bland, and it never has the distinct Indian-food taste that I find at the Clay Pit… or the hospitality room at the Westwood Winter UIL Classic (non-debate folk, just laugh and pretend to understand).

That is, until I found this dish. Somehow, these greens and spices found a way to become more than the sum of their parts: this dish is warm and tangy and spicy; comforting, while remaining (incredibly) healthy. In other words, it doesn’t taste like a half-Filipino/half-White girl made it, like when I make channa masala.


This recipe is simple and yields a significant amount. I refrigerated the leftovers and reheated them the next day, eating it over a salad with quinoa. While singing Taylor Swift songs. And stuffing love notes in its locker.

Curried Mustard Greens (or Sarson Ka Saag), adapted from My Creative Flavors. Yields 5-6+ servings.

1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch spinach, or ~2-3 cups frozen spinach, thawed and drained.
2 onions
4 tomatoes, or 2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 inches of ginger, peeled and minced
4-5 garlic cloves
1-2 cups water
~1 tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. garam masala
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 block of tofu and/or some paneer cheese. I used tofu, but try out a can of kidney beans or lentils and tell me how it is!

Crush/mince the ginger and the garlic, and let them hang out in a bowl to let their flavors get to know each other. Trim, wash, and chop the greens. Steam the greens, crushed ginger, and garlic in the water (I didn’t need a full two cups, but it’s up to you). Let the greens cool and grind them in a food processor or blender to make a thick paste. In a nonstick pan, saute the red pepper flakes, onions, and tomatoes. Add the spices. Puree the onion/tomato mixture. Combine the two mixtures and slowly add the cornstarch, stirring constantly, to thicken the saag. Then add big chunks of tofu or paneer.


4 responses to “curried spinach and mustard greens (sarson ka saag)

  1. Um YUM, Natalie. My husband and I lived in India for two months in 2005, and our hearts forever burned with Indian food longings … (or was it our digestive tract burning from our failed attempts at home?).

    Anyway, this recipe sounds amazing. And hey, have you ever shopped for Indian ingredients at Fiesta? Their stuff is slightly more, eh, “authentic” than anything I have seen at H-E-B. If you’re buying things like garam masala though you probably already have the hook-up on vendors.

    And Allison: ISN’T IT GREAT? I tell all of my friends about The First Kitchen! I want Natalie to become famous and turn this blog into a book or something.

  2. Pingback: hazelnut brown butter cake | The First Kitchen·

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