Cook's Hideout: Punjab -- Makki di Roti & Sarson ka Saag

April 23, 2014

Punjab -- Makki di Roti & Sarson ka Saag

Blogging Marathon# 39 - Indian States: Day 23
State: Punjab
Dish: Makki di Roti & Sarson ka Saag
We are going all the way northwest of India to Punjab today. Punjab means five (punj) and ab (water), thus the land of five rivers. It has the most fertile land. Agriculture is the largest industry in Punjab and it is the single largest producer of wheat in India.
I lived in Punjab the first few months of my life -- so naturally I don't remember anything. My mom went to Chandigarh (Captial of Punjab and Haryana) as a young bride and lived there for couple of years. She said the Punjabi neighbors there were very friendly and used to share homemade food with her. I asked her if she remembers any dishes or recipes, but she couldn't recollect any specifics (understandably so since it has been 30+ years). But she does remember the hearty sarson ka saag and makki di roti that the neighbor used to send over.
Punjabi dishes are probably the most famous Indian dishes all over the world with every Indian restaurant across the globe serving Naan, Mutter-Paneer and Lassi. Punjabi cuisine, however varies significantly between home cooked, restaurant style or the dhabas (roadside restaurants in India serving authentic Punjabi food). Punjabi cuisine is wholesome and is full of rustic flavors. Homemade ghee and masalas (spices) form the center of Punjabi dishes.
Today Dish(es): I decided to make this hearty, homey and very popular Punjabi dishes: Makki di roti & Sarson ka Saag. Makki di roti is made gluten free corn flour and it takes quite a bit of practice to get them right. This is my first attempt making them and might I say, it wasn't easy and there was a lot of stomach grumbling and mumbling from the rest of family for the delay in serving lunch. After struggling for some time, I was able to make a few good enough for the pictures, the rest were just eaten -- ahem without looking at the shape -- 'cos they were too hungry.
Hearty Punjabi Meal
Makki di Roti: Recipe from DK's Chef in you.
Corn flour - 2cups (sold in Indian stores as Makki roti)
Green chilies - 2, finely chopped
Cilantro - 2tbsp, finely chopped
Salt - to taste

  • Combine all the ingredients. Add some hot water and knead the dough into a smooth, pliable dough.
  • Since there is no gluten in corn flour, it is not possible to roll them out like regular rotis. Rotis have to be pressed out with fingers on a well greased plastic ziploc bag or something that helps to make the rotis and transfer them without breaking onto the tawa/ griddle.
  • Heat a griddle/ tawa. Grease a plastic ziploc bag. Divide the dough into lemon size balls. Flatten a ball on the bag and using your fingers press it out into a fairly round and even roti. If you have never made rotis with gluten free flour, this is quite a frustrating process -- there will be lot of cursing, crying and yelling while making the rotis. But keep faith, even if the rotis break -- they will still taste good. So keep making the rotis, no matter how broken and ugly they look. Check out DK's post for step by step pics.
  • Carefully transfer the roti onto the hot tawa. Cook till brown spots appear on both sides. Brush with ghee and serve them hot.
Makki di roti
Sarson ka Saag: 
To go with the makki di rotis, I made Sarson ka Saag, a delicious curry made with greens. I actually made this dish quite a few times after seeing it on Nupurs blog few years back. It uses broccoli rabe, which is easy to get here in US, instead of mustard greens. I added some grated paneer because I had some in the fridge and a dish without paneer for Punjab seemed 'not right' for me.
Broccoli Rabe
Recipe from Nupur & Sandeepa.
Broccoli Rabe - 3cups, chopped
Spinach - 10oz. frozen spinach
Paneer - ½cup, grated (optional)
Green chilies - 2
Besan/ Chickpea flour - 1tbsp
Onions - 2 large, chopped
Ginger+garlic paste - 2tsp
Tomato puree - 1cup
Turmeric - ¼tsp
Red Chili powder - 1tsp (adjust per taste)
Garam Masala - ½tsp
Heavy Cream - 2~3tbsp
Salt - to taste


  • Pressure cook broccoli rabe with 1½cups of water for 1~2 whistles. When the cooker is cool enough to handle, add the frozen spinach and besan into the cooked broccoli rabe. Mix well and mash with the back of a spoon -- or use an immersion blender to get a smooth consistency.
  • In a large pan, heat 1tbsp oil, saute onions till lightly browned around the edges. Add ginger+garlic paste and cook for 1~2 minutes.
  • Add turmeric, red chili powder and salt; mix well and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add tomato puree and cook for 3~4 minutes. Cover the pan if the curry starts to splutter.
  • Next add the pureed or mashed greens, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Finally add garam masala and paneer, mix well and cook for 2 more minutes before turning off the heat.
Sarson ka Saag
Serve with makki di roti and Enjoy!! I also made a simple dal tadka and jeera rice for a filling meal.
Dal Tadka

Lets check out what my fellow marathoners have cooked today for BM# 39.



  1. first few months of life - busy getting pampered I guess!!! Lol... And yes the makki roti and saag is unforgettable!!

  2. Brilliant idea of using broccoli rabe with mustard greens, makki di roti with sarson ka saag makes me drool. Hard to resist to this classic Punjabi dish.

  3. It is a custom at my home each year in winter, i missed it this year but your lovely platter makes up for the oohs and aahs i missed doing :)

  4. A very different version of sag with the pressure cooked broccoli rabe and spinach. The roti are always a challenge. Overall the meal looks great. Nice job.

  5. The authentic saag has turnips along with the mustard leaves..they have spinach and one more green...but i like the way you have made it..looks inviting.

  6. Looks amazing Pavani..adding hot water to gluten free flour always makes it easy to handle..:)..still yours are looking so good, and hope your family enjoyed the meal..

  7. Such a traditional and classic combo,sarson ka saag looks so creamy and delicious...

  8. Such a classic combination from the state! Your makki di roti are not as shapeless as you described them to be. Not bad for a first timer. Loved all the Punjabi dishes your cooked up for this state. Yummy food.

  9. This so reminds me of Punjab! Such a classic meal from the region. I love the way you have used broccoli rabe to make the sarson ka saag. Will try it!

  10. Haha! Pavani tell the family to come oever to eat my rotis. Mine are all the maps in the world. I love the rotis and the saag. They are so so delicious and what a combo.

  11. This is a perfect pair! Match made in heaven.Am yet to try this out but I think I will get myself invited over to your place the next time you make this :)

  12. I think a well represented authentic, yummy combo from the region.
    Somehow my husband seems to have an aversion to greens' curries and so I never had an opportunity to try this combo. :)

  13. I too have tried makkai ki roti twice and still have not mastered it - some versions I have found mix corn flour with chappati flour - I dont know which is more authentic but I think that version will be easier to roll. Regardless your whole meal looks delicious

  14. wow thats a very well presented makki di roti and sarso da saag :) I wud love to finish them all in no time .. loved your version of making sarso da saag :) very tempting punjab da khana :)

  15. Authentic Balle Balle!!! :) Looks awesome, a classic combo which i m wanting to try for a long time, i even had some mustard greens growing in my balcony!!! but then i have dried all my plants for the vacation!!!:)

  16. oh forget the shape.. the more irregular the more rustic I'd say and that's a popular food photo style too.. these look so tasty

  17. A classic combo from the region.


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