Dec 12, 2023, NEW YORK
Sarson ka Saag, a cherished winter dish from Punjab, especially Sialkot, has found a special place in the hearts of the diaspora, including Syed Anwar Wasti, who moved to the United States from Sialkot 40 years ago. Despite the passage of time and the distance from his homeland, Syed Anwar Wasti has kept this culinary tradition vibrantly alive in New York. In a heartfelt tribute to his roots, he has renamed this beloved dish “Sialkoti Saag,” symbolizing his enduring connection to his birthplace and his desire to celebrate his heritage in his new home.
Sialkoti Saag, as Syed Anwar Wasti fondly calls it, is a dish that encapsulates nostalgia and tradition. Made primarily from mustard greens (sarson), and blended with spinach and bathinda leaves, it offers a unique, earthy flavor that is both comforting and rustic. The greens are slow-cooked, allowing the flavors to deepen and meld together, reflecting the rich agricultural heritage of Punjab. Seasoned with ginger, garlic, and green chilies, the dish brings warmth and spice, making it an ideal comfort food for the chilly winters in New York.
The texture of Sialkoti Saag is a critical aspect of its preparation, achieving a balance that retains the natural character of the greens. In New York, Syed Anwar Wasti serves this dish with Makki di Roti, a cornmeal flatbread, just as it is traditionally served in Sialkot, creating a nutritious and warming meal. The addition of fresh white butter or ghee adds a rich, creamy dimension to the dish.
For Syed Anwar Wasti, Sialkoti Saag is more than just a meal; it’s a piece of his childhood, a reminder of communal feasts back in Sialkot. It symbolizes his unbreakable bond with his roots and his joy in sharing a piece of his heritage in a new land. This dish has become a means for him to connect with others from his community in New York, sharing stories and memories over a hearty meal. Sialkoti Saag, in the bustling city of New York, is not just a culinary delight but a cultural bridge, linking past and present, Sialkot and New York, in each savory, nostalgic bite.