Saag, a traditional north Indian dish of long-cooked spinach and spices, Makki Di Roti and Makhan gets reimagined into scones.
Nothing is more Punjabi than Sarson da Saag and Makki di roti with a dollop of makhan, especially during Vaisakhi. This variation takes a minute to wrap your head around. Be warned, you’ll get a few jaw drops when saag is mentioned as an ingredient. Either that, or pangs of nostalgia will hit the scone eater.
The delicious sweetness of the cornmeal meshes really well with the spicy spinach puree. You’ll have bites of jalapeño (a traditional accompaniment to saag and roti) and then the salty-sweet butter, to create the perfect flavour profile.
I am quickly becoming a scone making machine. I probably have about 100 flavour combinations filed away in the recesses of my brain. So this variety was no stretch of the imagination, at least not for me.
Scones can seem like they are challenge: there is air of mystery to them that can discourage home bakers to shy away. My advice, don’t be scared. They are truly quick and easy, they can be thrown together just before tea or a meal.
The verdict of this particular variety….they are delectable. Holy smokes, kind of good. They scored a 10 on the scone flavour combination scale. They are a bit green, easy to eat, and taste deliciously savoury. It doesn’t hurt they are full of iron, take hardly any effort to make and freeze beautifully. Yes, I’d call that a successful reinterpretation of a Punjabi classic. Happy Vaisakhi!
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1/3 cup pureed spinach (recipe below)
1 large jalapeño, chopped
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt, cayenne, cumin and jalapeño. Blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal, and still in the egg and saag. Still together until it just forms a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a cutting board and knead 4 times. Flatten the dough into a circle somewhere around 3/4 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter (or a glass or jar) to cut out circles, or slice these into triangles if you prefer that look. I used a miniature biscuit cutter.
Spiced Pureed Spinach
2 packages of frozen, chopped spinach leaves
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1/2 cup of chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
1 green chilli
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin ground
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon sea sal
Place frozen spinach and water into a pot and let it cook down for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in your blender add in onion, garlic, chilli, and ginger. Add a bit of water and then puree. In a large frying pan,and then add in pureed aromatics. Sauté for about 10 minutes on low heat. Add in spices and continue cooking. When spinach is cooked add to blender along with aromatics and spices and blend until smooth.
250 ml of whipping cream
Pour the cream into the food processor. Turn on and leave to beat away. (the objective is to over-beat it)
The cream should be thick and coming together into one big ball. When ready, it will look like butter and the sound coming from the food processor will change. Put it into a sieve over the sink, then use your hands to shape it and allow excess water to drain away. Put on some greaseproof paper, add in himalayan pink salt (to taste) and place in freezer until ready to use.
Jessie Kaur Lehail is the author of Indian Influence, a blog that shares food stories, recipes, and photography. Reflecting a love for meshing global flavours and South Asian aesthetics, Jessie explores culture and identity through food. Find more food stories at indianinfluence.ca