Probably the most celebrated items from Punjab, makki ki roti (cornbread) and sarson ka saag (mustard leaves) combination is a match made in heaven. This dish from Punjab is relished by all North Indians and they don’t mind hours of preparation for making saag the authentic way. People from other parts of India love this dish as well.
Markets are full of colourful vegetables in winters with green being the most prominent shade with sarson ka saag, bathua, paalak, methi ruling the vegetable markets. Saag takes hours of preparation even before cooking. The washing of the leaves properly and chopping them to fine pieces are a time-consuming job. Also, since it is mixed with other items like radish, radish leaves, spinach, turnips, etc., washing and cutting these vegetables are additional tasks.
If you are a Punjabi you would know, though this dish is available at restaurants and dhabas you can never get the authentic taste of saag if it’s not homemade. Why only saag? It is not easy to prepare even makki ki roti. You need expert hands to make sure the dough is right and the roti is not breaking on the tawa and is roasted so well that the corn dough is not wet or raw inside. So, for folks not from Punjab, if you want to taste the real thing, request or pester your Punjabi friends, neighbours or colleagues for a taste of the homemade sarson ka saag with makki ki roti. It is totally well-worth any initial embarrassment and investment by way of reciprocity with your regional speciality.
Though makki ki roti and sarson ka saag combination is a complete dish on its own, you can perk up your Punjabi platter by adding these top 5 things. These items not only add to the flavour but also make the wholesome meal even more nutritious.
Try a small bite of gur or jaggery with every nibble of saag and makki ki roti. Salt and sweet are mostly an unusual combination in North Indian food but having gur with Makki ki roti has been a tradition in Punjab forever. Since fresh gur also comes in winters and is known for its detoxing properties, it is very healthy to consume it with food. Also, gur’s high magnesium content helps boost intestinal strength and digest saag better.
A dollop of white butter on top of makki ki roti completes your Punjabi food experience. You may cook your makki ki roti in any white oil but topping it with white butter elevates its taste manifolds. Many would sneer at the mention of butter but butter is very good for joints and one is advised to take it in small quantities for overall health benefits.
The taste of white butter complements the sweetness of cornbread and the sight of melting butter on top of a makki ki roti is pure Indian food bliss.
Gajar Gobhi Shalgam Achaar
One of the lesser-known pickles gajar gobhi shalgam pickle or achaar is another gift of winters in North India. All three vegetable carrots, cauliflower, and turnips are available in this season in abundance. The homemade gajar gobhi shalgam achaar gets its tangy sweetness from gur and mustard seeds. It tastes amazing with makki ki roti and saag. Once again, it tastes best when homemade. Our mouths water while typing this post.
Curd or Raita
Plain curd or the seasoned version – raita helps digest a heavy meal of makki ki roti and saag better. Though you can make boondi or mixed vegetable raita to go with your Punjabi food, try bathua ka raita as bathua leaves are seasonal and you may not be able to have it any other time of the year.
A green chutney made of coriander and mint leaves, coarsely ground with onion, pomegranate seeds and lemon juice is just right for folks who don’t like anything sweet with their Punjabi food. This chutney is not just mouthwatering but also has great digestive properties. During this season dhania and pudina are also very affordable and readily available. A quick chutney is highly recommended with your makki ki roti and sarson ka saag.
Though a lot of people would think that a tall glass of lassi would be great with makki ki roti and saag, we don’t think that is a great combination. As makki ki roti and saag meal are rather heavy, it should not be paired with something as heavy as lassi. Also, that would guarantee a very drowsy rest of the day.
How do you like your makki ki roti and saag? Do you have your very own food items to pair it with? Do let us know in the comments.