Here’s a quick & easy Instant Pot Sarson Ka Saag (Mustard Greens & Spinach Curry) recipe made in the authentic Punjabi style. This recipe includes Stovetop instructions plus substitutions if you can’t find mustard greens. Naturally vegetarian and vegan optional. Tested to perfection!

Sarson Ka Saag on a plate with a dollop of butter with makai ki roti on the side

“Made this last night and it’s delicious.”

Reed

Imagine having to stop yourself from eating 1.5 pounds of greens. That’s Saag. You’d think it’d be bitter or even an acquired taste. But really, all you need is a bite and it just hits differently. Scoop it up with Makai ki Roti (cornmeal flatbread) on a chilly evening and you’ll know why it’s Punjab’s iconic meal.

Close up of Sarson Ka Saag with a dollop of melted butter

What is Saag, particularly Sarson Ka Saag?

The word Saag simply means vegetable greens. In context, Saag is used to describe stewed or puréed greens. Any type of greens can be used in Saag, but mustard greens (called Sarson) are the most common in Pakistan and India. In Punjabi cuisine, Sarson Ka Saag (or Sarson Da Saag) is an iconic winter dish that’s often paired with flaky cornmeal flatbread (makai ki roti).

I learned how to make Saag from my mother-in-law. She was visiting when I saw mustard greens at a farmer’s market, and I knew my collection of Punjabi recipes was to get a welcome addition.

Notes on the Ingredients

This Saag recipe requires just 11 ingredients, 12 if you must count salt.

Marbled backdrop with ingredients for making Instant Pot Sarson Ka Saag
  • Mustard Greens – The star ingredient here. You can use fresh bunches, pre-packaged, or even frozen. Scroll below to learn more about mustard greens, where you can find them, and what other greens you can use in place of them.
  • Spinach – Spinach is almost always used in Sarson Ka Saag and helps offset the bitterness of mustard greens.
  • Green Chili Peppers – Because Saag is made without many spices, a good amount of green chili peppers are used to give heat and flavor. You can use Serrano or Thai chili peppers.
  • Garlic – My mom-in-law doesn’t include garlic, but I found most traditional recipes use it. Plus, I tested & preferred it with the garlic.
  • Turmeric Powder – The only spice you’ll need. Like Baingan Bharta, Saag doesn’t need many spices, and gets its complexity from the method of preparation and a good dose of tadka (tempering).
  • Yellow corn flour – Used to thicken the saag. Corn flour is finer than cornmeal, but you can also use cornmeal if it’s finely ground. I found coarse, stone ground cornmeal to be gritty in Saag. Chickpea/gram flour (besan) is a perfectly good substitute, and I’ve even used masa harina with good results.
  • Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Methi) – I use dried methi but fresh would be a great, albeit hard to find, substitute. (Use leftover methi in Mixed Vegetable Curry or Butter Chicken!)
  • Oil & Ghee/Butter – I love blending oil and ghee or butter for the tadka but you can easily make it vegan by omitting it.
  • Ginger – A good dose of ginger adds a beautiful flavor without overpowering the Saag. Instead of crushing the ginger, finely chop or mince it so it doesn’t clump up in the tadka.

How to make Sarson Ka Saag (IP or Stovetop)

Start by cooking the greens, green chili, garlic, turmeric, and salt with some water in your Instant Pot (or Dutch oven). Don’t worry about crushing the garlic or even mixing this beautiful pile of greens.

Once cooked, stir the saag, crushing the garlic as you mix. Then use an immersion blender or food processor to blend it into a rough purée.

Blending greens for Instant Pot Sarson Ka Saag with a hand blender

Next, add cornflour (or fine-ground cornmeal) and start cooking to thicken the saag and remove the floury taste.

Sauteing corn flour to make Instant Pot Sarson Ka Saag

Stir in the dried fenugreek leaves (methi). Add a bit of water, stir, and turn off the Instant Pot. If you’d like, you can turn the Instant Pot on Saute – Less while you brown onions for the tadka. Don’t worry, any bits on the bottom will be deglazed when the tadka is added.

Adding dried fenugreek leaves (methi) to the Instant Pot for Sarson Ka Saag

In a medium skillet, sauté some chopped onion in oil & ghee until nice and golden. Add a good heap of minced ginger and allow it to cook for another minute.

Ingredients for Tadka (tempering) for Sarson Ka Saag
Tadka or browned onions and minced ginger in a medium skillet ready to be mixed in with Sarson Ka Saag

Transfer this tadka to the Saag, and you’re done.

Tadka added to instant pot Sarson Ka Saag along with chopped cilantro

About Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are the leaves of the mustard plant, which has been around since prehistoric times (source). The seeds of the mustard plant are used as-is, or to make mustard (the condiment), mustard powder, and mustard oil.

There are many varieties of mustard greens, and I assume my American mustard greens are different from the mustard greens found in India & Pakistan.

One bunch of Mustard Greens on a white surface

Where to Find Mustard Greens

Fields of mustard greens may be common in Punjab, but they’re harder to find in different parts of the world.

If you’re in Texas, HEB carries mustard greens throughout the winter. They also sell pre-washed/pre-cut mustard greens which are a great time-saver.

If you can’t find them at your local grocery store, Asian grocery stores often carry mustard greens. Some South Asian grocers carry them as well. In any case, I’d try calling to check before making the trip or ordering.

What other greens can I use besides Mustard Greens?

If you can’t find mustard greens, here are some good substitutions:

  • Broccoli Rabe (Rapini). A couple people have tried this recipe with them and they reported great results.
  • Turnip Greens. I’ve tried using 1 part turnip greens and 1 part mustard greens and it came out delicious.
  • Kale could also work, though I haven’t tested it myself.
  • Broccoli is another easy-to-find vegetable that I’ve often seen used in Saag.
  • Lastly, you can always just use more spinach in place of mustard greens.
Easy Sarson Ka Saag on a plate with a couple spoons on the side served with makai ki roti (cornmeal flatbread) and a glass of water

How to Double This Recipe

Because the leaves are packed in the 6 qt Instant Pot, it’d be difficult to double without first wilting them. If making on the stovetop, simply use a larger dutch oven, or wilt the greens before adding more.

Freezing Tips

Saag is very freezer-friendly. Freeze saag after blending, but before adding the tadka. When ready to eat, thaw, reheat on the stovetop, and then finish off with the tadka.

More Tips on Making Sarson Ka Saag

  • This is a preference thing, but I like to purée the saag just enough so that it’s smooth but still has some texture.
  • After cooking the Saag, if you find it needs a bit more spice, use red chili flakes as they don’t need to cooked like red chili pepper would.
  • The hard stems create bitterness, so try to remove them as much as possible.
Half eaten plate of Sarson Ka Saag served with Makai ki roti (cornmeal flatbread)

What to serve with Sarson Ka Saag?

Saag pairs well with any type of roti, naan, or even corn tortillas, but makai ki roti (cornmeal roti) is its iconic complement

I usually prepare a quick makai ki roti by mixing 200 grams of cornmeal with a little salt and adding 2/3 cup boiling hot water. Mix with a spatula, roll out, and cook on a nonstick pan over medium heat. If you’d like, I can work on a more thorough recipe. Just reach out and let me know!

More Punjabi Curry Recipes You’ll Love

Easy Baingan Bharta (Oven Roasted/Broiled Eggplant Curry)
Spinach and Potato Curry – Aloo Palak (Easy & Authentic)
Kadhi Pakora (Instant Pot & Stovetop)
Instant Pot Chicken Pulao (Quick & Easy)
Chana Masala (Authentic Chickpea Curry)

I hope you get a chance to try this recipe! If you do, let me know in the comments below! If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creations. I love hearing from you!

Sarson Ka Saag with a dollop of butter on a plate with spoons and makai ki roti on the side
4.91 (11 ratings)

Easy Sarson Ka Saag (Instant Pot & Stovetop)

This Easy Instant Pot Sarson Ka Saag recipe is made in the Authentic Indian and Pakistani (Punjabi) style but in half the time! Stovetop instructions included. Vegetarian/Vegan optional!

Ingredients 

Saag

  • 1/4 cup (2 cups for Stovetop) water for Instant Pot
  • 2 bunches (~1 lb after stemming or 454g/16 oz packaged ) mustard greens*, washed, hard stems removed, and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch (~1/2 lb after stemming) spinach , washed, hard stems removed, and roughly chopped
  • 3-4 small (~4-5 g) green chili peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, leave whole – will be crushed later
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp heaped kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup yellow corn flour or fine ground cornmeal, or sub chickpea flour (besan) or masa harina
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (methi)

Tadka (Tempering)

  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee or butter, or sub more oil
  • 1 small (~150-190 g) onion, finely chopped
  • 2 – 2 1/2 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)
  • butter, optional, for serving

Instructions 

Instant Pot

  • Add water to Instant Pot, followed by the mustard greens, spinach, green chili peppers, garlic, turmeric, and salt. No need to mix. Secure the lid, seal the vent, and pressure-cook on High Pressure for 20 minutes. Allow pressure to naturally release for at least 5 minutes, and then manually release remaining pressure. Press Cancel to turn off the Instant Pot.
  • Open the lid and stir the saag, crushing garlic cloves as you mix. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend into a rough purée. If you see any tough stems, remove them.
  • Select Sauté and set the temperature to High. Add corn flour and cook for 3-5 minutes to remove the floury taste. Add the dried fenugreek leaves (methi) and stir to mix.
  • Add ½ cup water and stir until the water absorbs in the Saag. Taste and add salt, if needed. Select Cancel to turn off the Instant Pot.**
  • Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, ghee, and onion. Sauté until the onions are deep golden (~6-8 min). Add ginger and sauté for another minute. Stir this tadka into the saag and mix to combine. Garnish with cilantro and give it a stir. Serve with makai (corn) or regular roti, corn tortilla, naan, or other bread. Top with a pat of butter, if desired.

Stovetop

  • Heat a (preferably nonstick) 5 qt Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the mustard greens, spinach, green chili peppers, garlic, turmeric, and salt along with 2 cups of water. No need to mix. Cover and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
  • Turn off the heat. Uncover and stir the saag, crushing garlic cloves as you mix. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend into a rough purée. If you see any tough stems, remove them.
  • Turn the heat back on to medium-high. Add corn flour and cook for 3-5 minutes to remove the floury taste. Add the dried fenugreek leaves (methi) and stir to mix. Taste and add salt, if needed.
  • Reduce the heat to low-medium, add ½ cup water, and proceed to tadka. Stir occasionally. If needed, add another ¼ cup of water to thin it out.
  • Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, ghee, and onion. Sauté until the onions are deep golden (~6-8 min). Add ginger and sauté for another minute. Stir this tadka into the saag and mix to combine. Garnish with cilantro and give it a stir. Serve with makai (corn) or regular roti, corn tortilla, naan, or other bread. Top with a pat of butter, if desired.

Video

Notes

*See post for mustard greens substitutions.
**If you’d like, you can turn the Instant Pot on Saute – Less while the onions are browning so the saag stays hot. Any bits on the bottom of the Instant Pot will be deglazed when the tadka is added.
Calories: 237kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 19mg, Sodium: 876mg, Potassium: 119mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 80IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 1mg