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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Grab Some Greens: Indian Saag

Chef Daniel Orr has cooked all over the world, from France to NYC to the Caribbean. He brings that wide range of experience to this traditional Indian dish.

chef daniel orr with two examples of saag

Photo: Eoban Binder/WFIU

Chef Daniel Orr shows off two ways to serve this recipe -- pureed with paneer or simply wilted.

Our mantra at Earth Eats is “Local ingredients with global flavor,” and we’re going there again today with a recipe for saag. This dish of puréed greens is usually served over paneer, a fresh cheese popular in the cuisine of South Asia.

Most American restaurants use spinach as the base, but we’re using mizuna, a Japanese mustard green. Adding a bit of arugula and spinach will give the dish a nice balance since mizuna can have an strong flavor. My general rule for cooking with aggressively-flavored greens — add a touch of sweet, a touch of heat and a touch of fat.

This recipe calls for two pounds of greens, which may seem like a lot, but it will cook down to one quarter of that volume. And, be sure you cook the greens completely to a velvety texture — this is not one of those dishes where you want crispy, crunchy greens!

You can serve this finished dish two ways:

  1. Right out of the pan, complete with big pieces of greens
  2. Blend the cooked greens to a smooth sauce

Indian-Style Mustard Greens


  • 2 pounds mustard greens, stemmed, or broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 pound cleaned spinach and arugula
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon toasted cumin
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • salt (to taste)

Cooking Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the mustard greens and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for 30 seconds. Drain the greens.
  2. In a medium-heat pan with oil, add the garlic, jalapeños, toasted cumin seeds and ginger to the pan. Add the onions and cook until lightly browned.
  3. Add the pureed greens and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle the cornmeal over the greens. Add heavy cream and combine. Serve when greens have completely wilted.
  4. Or, add cooked greens mixture to a food processor. Add an additional handful of spinach and a dash of water. Blender until smooth. Serve over paneer.

Chef Daniel Orr

Chef Daniel Orr is the owner of FARMbloomington and the author of several cookbooks. He draws from a lifelong curiosity about individual ingredients combined with extensive training in the art of finding food’s true essence and flavor. The result is simple, yet sophisticated; the best of American food tempered by classic European training.

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