This Festive Bihari Kushi Kerao Saag Is A Simple Legacy Dish
Image Credit: Kushi Kerao Saag is a simple yet festive state cooked across homes in Bihar.

One afternoon soon after getting married, while cleaning and checking the kitchen pantry of the home I now shared with my in-laws, I discovered a large container filled with these small peas. They were the size of green moong, but rounder and off-green or brown in colour. As a foodie and home cook who loves experimenting with ingredients, I was stumped because I had never come across this one. My mother-in-law then explained that these small dry peas are called Kushi Kerao, and she stocks it up for the festival of Jitiya or Jivitputrika. 

Come Jitiya, which is celebrated in the Hindu month of Ashwin (around October in the English calendar), and my mother-in-law went through the whole ritual of soaking the Kushi Kerao overnight, getting Poro Saag—also known as Poi Saag and Malabar spinach—from the Noida sabji mandi, and cooking up a delicacy I have now come to love: Kushi Kerao Ke Saag. 

The festival of Jitiya is celebrated for three days, when mothers across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and parts of Nepal keep a fast for the wellbeing of their children—irrespective of whether they are male or female. The dedication with which my mother-in-law keeps the fast for the three days known as Nahay-Khaye, Jitiya and Paran, is matched by the legacy dishes that she cooks up during that time. She explains that though most people cook Kushi Kerao specifically for Jitiya, there are many in Bihar and UP who also cook it up during the festival of Chhath.  

A bit of research revealed that Kushi Kerao, which is a highly nutritious local pulse, might be used by the modern public of these states only during these two key festivals, but for many of the local tribes and communities of the region, it is a year-long staple. From making the popular Ghugni with Kushi Kerao instead of dried white peas, to making other dishes like Kushi Kerao Jhor and Godila, the pulse is used regularly for its high-protein content and nutty taste.  

For me, Kushi Kerao Saag is more of a legacy dish that people don’t know about, but should. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or simply interested in adding a delicious new dish to your repertoire, this one is a must-have. If you do want to give it a try, here’s my mother-in-law's recipe: 


1 cup Kushi Kerao, soaked overnight 

300 g Malabar spinach, chopped 

½ tsp cumin seeds 

¼ tsp asafoetida 

2 green chillies, chopped 

½ tsp turmeric powder 

½ tsp coriander powder 

½ tsp red chilli powder 

½ tsp ginger paste 

½ tsp garam masala powder 

Salt, to taste 

2 tbsp vegetable oil 


1. Heat the oil in a wok, then add cumin seeds, green chillies and asafaoetida. 

2. Once these temperings stop spluttering, add the soaked Kushi Kerao and saute for 2-3 minutes. 

3. Add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, ginger paste, garam masala and salt. 

4. Saute the mix for 5 minutes, until the raw smell of the spices has dissipated. 

5. Now add the chopped Malabar spinach, mix well, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes until the green leafy veggie is thoroughly cooked. 

6. Uncover the wok and let the mix cook until the water dries out almost completely. Check and adjust the salt and serve hot with a sprinkling of ghee on top if you like.