Wednesday, November 15, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


A Punjabi delicacy

Peeli peeli sarson phule chal bagh mein words from the lyrics of movie Earth depict the sarson fields in all their beauty. Come winters and every Punjabi waits for sarson da saag and makki di roti either made plain or with grated raddish, or with green leaves of fengruik.

Once a foreigner was given sarson da saag on makki di roti. He ate the saag and returned the thick roti, saying “Where shall I keep the plate?”

Most of the people are waiting to lap up fresh saag, and either mix it with spinach or bathu. It is supposed to be cooked on a very slow fire. In the villages they all cook the saag in an earthen pot, on a slow fire of cowdung cakes. When it is cooked, it lets out a pungent smell that wafts in air. Then a wooden madahni is used to mash the saag and some makki atta is added to it. In the villages, women are experts in making the dough and can make the rotis by flapping their hands. A round roti is formed and it is cooked on fire lit by burning logs.

In the modern kitchens, the saag is cooked in a pressure cooker and after this it goes in the mixie and is churned to a fine paste. Even the roti is made on a plastic sheet. Makki da atta is less starchy, hence difficult to knead.

Mr A. S. Dhaliwal says, “I think sarson da saag provides us with a lot of iron content. If we put shakkar on the roti that also supplies iron. Butter supplies the required fat content. Makki di roti provides adequate starch and coupled with a glass of fat-free lassi, I think it is the most wholesome food in the world. It is not only very satisfying and delicious but also a delicacy if well made.”

Usha Kapur, an NRI, comes to India specially during winters. She confesses,” The variety of food that we get in the USA is mind-boggling. Yet, I always long for sarsoon da saag and makki di roti. So during my entire stay in India, there is not a single day when I do not take my favourite food.”

Sarsoon da saag and makki di roti rules the roost in winters. It is also served during marriages as a delicacy. The rustic favourite has become a favourite with urbanites as well. — AA

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