Sarson Ka Saag (Braised Mustard Greens and Spinach) Recipe

A deliciously simple dish of braised greens.

Saag in an earth-toned orange bowl with roti in the background

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Why This Recipe Works

  • Braising the tough mustard greens makes them tender.
  • Adding spinach ameliorates the sharpness of the mustard greens.
  • A simple tadka adds layers of flavor and aroma to the final dish.
  • A final pat of salted butter on top adds richness and salt.

Sarson ka saag is the ultimate comfort food, and it recalls for me the bitterly cold winter months of northern India. Growing up in a Punjabi family, this was a dish that was often made for special occasions, like weddings that took place during the winter, but it was also made on weekends, too.

"Saag" for me has always meant sarson ka saag, a dish traditionally made with mustard leaves and a mix of a few other greens, like spinach, fresh fenugreek leaves, and bathua (also known as white goosefoot). And sarson ka saag was always served with a dollop of butter on top, accompanied by makki ki roti, a flatbread made with maize flour, and a little piece of jaggery on the side. That's it; a complete meal, a complete celebratory meal, because saarson ka saag needs very little else.

Until recently, I had some difficulty finding mustard leaves in the UK where I live, although you can purchase them online. I found some when traveling to another town for work, and I was reminded of how distinctly delicious mustard leaves are: slightly bitter, creamy when cooked, with a sharp, mustardy bite. When preparing them, you don't want to add too much to get in the way of their flavor.

A freshly washed mustard green on a cutting board

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For this dish, I braise the mustard greens with just ghee and water until they're tender and then add a little spinach to balance out some of their sharpness. I remove the greens from the pot, wipe it out, then make a simple and lovely tadka consisting of garlic, ginger, and a few chiles to make the whole thing sing. I add the greens back to the pot and mix them with the tadka, then use a potato masher to break up the greens further. Finally, I serve them with a pat of salted butter on top for richness.

Once you've tried this recipe, you'll undertsand how different it is from the "saag" you might find at your local Indian restaurant. The flavor is entirely different, and the delicious greens have more substance and, consequently texture. In fact, the sturdy leaves are so fibrous it would be very difficult to turn them into a purée of any kind.

Overhead view of saag and roti

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

If you can serve this with a makki ki roti, that's great, but you can also serve it with a stack of humble chapatis to really experience the flavor of mustard greens at their fullest.

Recipe Details

Sarson Ka Saag (Braised Mustard Greens and Spinach) Recipe

Prep 10 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 30 mins
Serves 4 servings

A deliciously simple dish of braised greens.


For the Greens:

  • 1 tablespoon ghee

  • 4 bunches (400g) of sarson (mustard leaves), washed, spun, and finely chopped

  • 1 bunch (100g) spinach leaves, washed, spun, and finely chopped

For the Tadka:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee

  • 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil, such as sunflower

  • 2 dried red chiles

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

  • 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

  • 1 hot green chile, minced

  • 1 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; if using table salt, use half as much by volume or same weight

  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, for serving


  1. For the greens: In a large straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven, heat the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the mustard greens along with 1/2 cup (120ml) water, stir to combine, and bring water to a boil, about 5 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until leaves have softened, about 8 minutes. Add the spinach, stir to combine, cover, and cook until spinach is completely softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer cooked greens to medium mixing bowl and wipe out the pan or pot with a clean kitchen towel or a paper towel.

    Four image collage. Clockwise from top left: ghee heating in a pot; Mustard greens being added to the pot; spinach being added to the mustard greens in the pot; cooked greens in a metal bowl

    Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

  2. For the tadka (and to finish): Add ghee and oil to the pan or pot and heat over medium heat. Add the dried red chiles and cook until they begin to sizzle, about 1 minute. Add the ginger, garlic, and fresh chiles, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cooked greens back to the pan or pot along with salt, chile powder, and a 1/2 cup of water, and stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring liquid to a boil, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and, using a potato masher, firmly mash greens. Stir well, then transfer to a serving dish. Top with salted butter and serve immediately.

    Four Image Collage. Clockwise from top left: Ginger, garlic and peppers being stirred in a pot; added greens being stirred in the pot; salt being added to the greens; greens being smashes in the pan with a potato masher to release water.

    Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Make-Ahead and Storage

In a sealed container, this dish will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
209 Calories
19g Fat
8g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 209
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 25%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 385mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 74mg 369%
Calcium 163mg 13%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 553mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)