Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Lobia and Sarson with Matta Rice

Black-eyed peas, Mustard Greens with Matta Rice:

There are only few American dishes that I enjoy. One of them is Hopping’ John (black-eyed peas, greens and rice). This is an African-American dish that has made it to the “Hara’s Tara”. I like the combination, but the underlying flavor melancholy is inescapable. How to add a cheerful tone to blue notes. Well, how about a mrudangam beat. These thoughts led to a new recipe, which is an amalgam of both ingredients and method.

Black-eyed peas, mustard greens and Kerala matta rice cooked together with onions and tomatoes. And the dish is flavored with fresh coconut, peppercorn and nutmeg. Though it started out like musical elements spontaneously assembled during a play, the south-Indian improvisational context imparted an orchestra effect to good old African American tradition. Mine was a solo performance, and when the single audience showed up with a serving bowl saying “encore please”, some hopping smiles sure happened.

Lobia and Sarson with Matta Rice:
(for two adults for two meals)

1-cup black-eyed peas - soaked in water overnight, and cooked to tender
1-cup matta rice (or brown rice) - soaked in 3 cups of water for 3 hours
1 bunch mustard greens - leaves and tender stems, finely chopped
1 onion, and two ripe tomatoes - finely chopped
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped

For seasoning:
2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut,
1 teaspoon black peppercorn (this dish needs some heat)
½ teaspoon each - cumin and grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon each - turmeric and salt
½ inch piece of ginger
2 tablespoons of crushed jaggery
Take them all in a Mixer. Pulse few times, first. Then add half cup of water. Blend to smooth paste.

Heat a tablespoon of peanut oil in a big pot. Add and sauté garlic and onion to pale-red. Add tomatoes and sauté to soft. Add the mustard greens and cook until leaves start to collapse. Add the rice and the water it soaked in. Cover the pot and on medium heat, cook the rice until it’s al-dente or just tender. Now add the precooked black-eyed peas. And also the spice paste. Stir-in another cup of water if the dish looks too dry. Mix. Have a taste and adjust salt to your liking. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve hot with papadums on the side. Makes a great tasting one-pot meal.

Vegetarian Hopping John
India Inspired Hopping John ~ Meal Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Blackeye Beans, Rosematta Rice, Sarson (Mustard Greens) (Thursday April 24, 2008 at 5:40 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Mustard Seeds (Aavalu, Rai, Sarson)

Brown and Tiny Mustard Seeds from Telengana Region, Andhra Pradesh, India Also Known as Chitti AavaluBlack Mustard Seeds from India
Tiny Brown Mustard Seeds from Andhra Pradesh also Known as “Chitti Aavalu” in Telugu
and Black Mustard Seeds from Bharath

According to old-world tales, there was an interesting exchange of messages between King Darius of Persia and Alexander the Great.

King Darius sent a sack of sesame seeds to Alexander to show the vastness of his army. To this, Alexander responded with a sack of mustard seeds to imply not only the number but also the power, energy and the fiery nature of his men.

Mustard seeds are one of the oldest spices known to mankind and valued for their antiseptic, antibacterial, carminative and warming properties. They are also good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium and protein. Mustard greens are an excellent source of Vitamin A, iron, zinc and improve blood circulation.

Mustard is a very economical plant. Its leaves are used as a vegetable, flowers and pods in salads and seeds as a spice. Mustard seeds hardly give away any fragrance when whole. This is because the enzyme that creates the hot, pungent taste of mustard is activated when it comes in contact with liquids. And for this very reason we wait for the mustard seeds to pop in our tadka. The popping of mustard seeds imparts the sharpness and nutty flavor to the dish.

The vibrant yellow flowers of mustard plants shout out the impending arrival of spring to the world. Folks in Punjab celebrate Basant Panchami when spring arrives with amazingly beautiful, bright and cheery rolling fields of mustard. A favorite of Bollywood films, fantastically yellow mustard fields are breathtaking and romantic. When you talk about mustard and Punjab, it is only natural that one thinks of “Sarson Ka Saag”. This one of a kind dish is best enjoyed with Makke de Roti (corn roti).

Sarson Ka Saag with Roti, and
Toasted Mustard Seeds, Part of Traditional Tadka or Popu

There are three types of mustard seeds – white (actually they look more yellow than white), black and brown. Brown mustard looks very identical to black mustard but has only 70% of the pungency. Mustard seeds are harvested when the pods are fully developed but not yet ripe. The mustard hay is then stacked to dry and then threshed to remove the seeds.

Oil of mustard is a rubefacient. It irritates the skin when applied and dilates the small blood vessels underneath the skin. This increases the flow of blood to the skin and makes it feel warm. Mustard plasters are used to relieve chest colds and coughs. To make a mustard plaster, mix some powdered mustard with warm water and spread it as a paste on a doubled piece of soft cloth. Do not apply this plaster directly on the skin. Take care to see that you don’t keep it on for more than 15 minutes.

A mustard foot bath is a traditional remedy for colds and headaches. Add one teaspoon of mustard powder to a bowl of hot water and soak your feet for about 15 min. The warming nature of mustard clears the congestion by drawing it away from the source. These foot baths or mustard plasters should be used carefully since mustard can irritate skin if used for longer durations. Also never use this remedy on small children.

I have read that it is fairly easy to grow mustard. If you plan to try it, make sure you choose a sunny area in your yard. Mustard is an annual plant and germinates easily. It spreads easily too so you just need to make sure that it doesn’t take over your entire yard.

I just loved the idea of harvesting our own mustards seeds, like this gardener had done and I am going to give it a try this year. Only time will tell whether I can actually get substantial amount of mustard seeds from my garden or not, but I will at least get a small piece of Punjab with beautiful and bright yellow flowers.

Guest Article by ~ Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice
Photography by: Indira Singari


If you have questions about Mustard spice, please post them in comments section. Anjali would be glad to answer them for you. Thanks.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Sarson (Mustard Greens), Herbs and Spices, Mustard Seeds (Aavalu), Anjali Damerla (Thursday September 13, 2007 at 5:12 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Series of Sprouts ~ Mustard Seed Sprouts

Sprouted Mustard Seeds (Aavalu)

One thing I did not expect from mustard seed sprouts was spiciness. God, they are hot. I don’t know how many of you had the experience of paan-supari. The tongue tingles and burns at the same time, right? Mustard seed sprouts had the same effect. It starts with a bitter taste and then within few seconds, the whole tongue will feel like it’s on fire, ending with a chilled sensation. I liked the mustard sprouts ruchi.

The sprouting process was easy. Soak couple of teaspoons of mustard seeds in water for four hours. Drain the water and take the soaked mustard seeds in a loosely woven cotton cloth. Place it in a colander near windowsill where the Sun shines. Frequently spray water to keep the seeds and the cloth moist. Within a day, the sprouts start to appear. Wait another day for them to grow little bit. Then add them in curries, kurmas, raita and in popu or tadka. When added in moderation, mustard sprouts surely perk up a mature palate with rustic pungency.

For today’s meal, I prepared a yogurt based salad with mustard sprouts for parathas. Cucumber, carrot, mango, sweet onions, asafoetida, red pepper and salt mixed in yogurt; the poor mouth is still recovering from the flavor-jugalbandi effect.

Moong dal with Paratha and Mustard Sprouts Raita

Mustard Sprouts Raita:
2 cups yogurt
Half cup each - grated cucumber, carrot and semi-ripe mango
Quarter cup each - finely chopped red onion or shallot and cilantro
A tablespoon of sprouted mustard seeds
10 curry leaves and a pinch each- hing, sugar and red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon oil

In a bowl, take yogurt and add the cucumber, carrot, mango and onion. Combine.
In a small pan, heat oil. Add and toast curry leaves and mustard sprouts to fragrance. Stir in hing, sugar and red pepper flakes. Fry them to warm and add the toasted contents to yogurt. Mix thoroughly and serve. Tastes great as a dip or spread.

Recipes with Mustard Sprouts:
Mustard Sprouts Roti ~ from Live to Cook

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Yogurt, Sarson (Mustard Greens), Sprouts (Molakalu), Herbs and Spices, Mustard Seeds (Aavalu) (Wednesday September 12, 2007 at 7:33 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sarson da Saag (Mustard greens, Spinach & Paneer)

Baby Sarson (Baby Mustard Greens)
Baby Sarson (Baby Mustard Greens ~ Japanese Variety)

“Mustard greens originated in the Himalayan region of India and have been grown and consumed for more than 5,000 years. Mustard greens are a notable vegetable in many different cuisines, ranging from Chinese to Southern American. Like turnip greens, they may have become an integral part of Southern cuisine during the times of slavery, serving as a substitute for the greens that were an essential part of Western African foodways. While India, Nepal, China and Japan are among the leading producers of mustard greens, a significant amount of mustard greens are grown in the United States as well.”

- Says the WHFoods, a website which provides unbiased scientific information on nutrient-rich World’s Healthiest Foods. If you think history of this green leafy vegetable is impressive, check out the detailed nutritional information listed. It has antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, E to mineral - Magnesium, that would help to deal with lung problems (asthma) etc, - almost everything that a health(label) conscious person desires in a vegetable. Not only that mustard seeds (aavaalu) that we use regularly in our tadka and mustard oil comes from this vegetable.

When it comes to cooking mustard greens, the famous Punjabi’s ‘Sarson da Saag’, is THE recipe. Mustard Greens (Sarson Patta in Hindi), spinach and paneer along with traditional Indian seasoning are all cooked together. Like Punjabis, the end result is attractive and vibrant - in a nutshell, wholesome food experience. Give it a try!

Fresh Baby Mustard Greens, Spinach, Onion, Ginger, Garlic, Cashews, Paneer, Green Chilli


1 bunch fresh, baby Sarson (mustard greens)- chopped
1 bunch fresh spinach - chopped
10 green chillies - small Indian variety
1 small onion - finely chopped
1 tsp of ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp of cccc powder (cumin-coriander-clove-cinnamon) or garam masala
15 cashews - roasted and powdered
15 paneer cubes - grilled or pan-fried to light gold
Limejuice to taste or 2 tablespoons
Turmeric and salt to taste or ½ tsp each

1. In a big skillet, heat a teaspoon of ghee. Add and saute the sarson, spinach and green chillies. Within 2 to 3 minutes, the leaves start to wilt and come together. Turn off the heat and remove them to a plate. Let cool and then take them in a blender or food processor. Grind to coarse paste by adding a pinch of salt.

2. In the same skillet, add and heat a teaspoon of ghee. Add and saute onions to gold color. Add and fry ginger-garlic paste for few seconds. Add pureed sarson-spinach-green chilli and half cup of water. Stir in cashew powder, garam masala, turmeric and salt. Mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Before turning off the heat, add paneer cubes and sprinkle in limejuice.

Serve hot. Tastes great with rice and roti or chapatis.

Sarson Da Saag with Chapatis
Sarson da Saag with Chapatis.

I purchased these fresh, baby mustard greens from an Asian grocery shop (Uwajimaya).
Recipe adapted from: Basant. I have added cashews to bring some nutty sweetness to the curry.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Paneer, Spinach, Cashews, Sarson (Mustard Greens) (Monday November 6, 2006 at 4:29 pm- permalink)
Comments (32)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Mustard Greens (Sarson Patta or Sarshapa)

Baby Mustard Greens
Young, tender Sarson Patta or Mustard Greens ~ For this Week’s Indian Kitchen

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Sarson (Mustard Greens) (Sunday November 5, 2006 at 5:13 pm- permalink)
Comments (14)

The New Home of Mahanandi: