Makke Ki Roti-Sarson Ka Saag: Origins Of The Winter Combo

Winters in North India are about cuddling in your blanket, gulping down multiple cups of tea in a day, enjoying a day out in the sun (when it’s out on rare occasions during late December and most days of January), and gorging on dishes like gajar ka halwa, sarson ka saag and makke ki roti, kadai doodh, rogan josh, chikki, and til ke laddoo. Among these, sarson ka saag with makke ki roti is the ultimate comfort food that is believed to keep your body warm in harsh weather.

Imagine a plate with a bowl containing green sarson ka saag with butter melting on the surface, makke ki roti dipped in butter, and pickle on the side. Just the mention of the dish can make any foodie drool. Slowly cooked in the mixture of spices, each bite is a burst of flavour in your mouth. What many don’t know is this recipe is a celebration of winter harvest in the region it originated from. Therefore, many festivals celebrated in January include this combo as a part of celebrations, and this is especially true for Makar Sankranti, which will be celebrated on January 15, 2024.

This article will introduce you to the history and significance of this dish that brings families together on the dining table. Sarson ka aag and makke ki roti is a timeless recipe that is a must-cook in every winter season. Let’s take a look at how this simple meal rules the hearts of Indians and foodies across the globe.

History Of Sarson Ka Saag

Video Credit: Kunal Kapur/YouTube

Originating in the Punjab region of the subcontinent of India, the dish uses mustard greens as the major ingredient for the gravy or saag. Sarson finds its description in texts written around the third century BCE as one of the staple food products consumed by the followers of Jainism. The crop was grown in the region in various ways to incorporate flavours ranging from mild bitterness to strong and sensory. Depending on where one belongs, today saag means a variety of greens like spinach, kale, turnip greens, etc. 

While the seeds are sowed somewhere from October to December, the harvest is ready quite soon. When the seeds and leaves were harvested, farmers had a tradition of sharing them with their friends and loved ones, who used to cook the traditional recipe of Sarson ka Saag. Not just in India, but this wholesome and delicious savoury is famous in Pakistan as well. Though famous among Sikhs, this green delicacy paired with makke ki Roti is now popular among various ethnicities in India, Pakistan, and across the world. 

History Of Makke Ki Roti

It is believed that corn originated around 9,000 years ago in Mexico. The coarse flour that we get from it is called makke ki atta in India. It is derived by drying kernels from the crop harvested in the winter season and coarsely grinding to convert it into fine powder. It isn’t clear how, when, and who paired sarson ka saag and makke ki roti, but the deadly combination is what makes this dish so special.

Significance Of Sarson Ka Saag And Makke Ki Roti

This dish is usually prepared during festivals, bringing families and communities together. In Punjab, it is a staple delicacy during the Lohri and Baisakhi. In the past, women in the communities used to gather at one place to prepare saag and roti, and it promoted community bonding.

Since both crops (corn and mustard) are found in abundance in the region of Punjab, this dish became a part of the cultural identity of the state. Among many dishes, Sarson ka saag and makke ki roti have transcended boundaries and are enjoyed in most households in the country with variations.