Sajanaa Saaga Kharada with Muga Dali and Saru | Drumstick Leaves with split green gram without skin and colocassia | Unique Iron Rich Odia Drumstick Leafy Green Recipe |

Sajaana Saaga Kharada with Muga dali and Saru

Sajanaa Saaga ( Drumstick Leaves)

Sajaana Saaga Kharada with Muga dali and Saru

This dish is one of the most traditional dishes of Odisha made all across the state, especially in villages. Drumstick leaves are pretty high in iron, just like spinach, or perhaps richer. Besides iron, it is amazingly rich in vitamins also, especially Vitamin A, C and B 6, and calcium. No wonder, the poor working class villagers manage to derive their requirements of iron and many other vitamins from this one source, and other leafy greens of course.

The only pain is the time taken for segregating the leaves from the branches/stems. One must also exercise caution not to end up consuming caterpillar infested leaves! Better to avoid having it in the season (rainy days) when caterpillars are just all around drumstick tree. November seems to be a good period. I really managed to get absolutely tender, green and clean branchesJ

For 4-5 serves


Muga dali ( split green grams without skin) –  3/4th to 1 cup

Sajanaa saaga ( drumstick leaves – tender ) – 3 to 4 cups

Saru ( Arbi/ Colocassia) – 4-5 small ones ( called puaa saru – not the thick and large variety which does not get tender easily)

Mustard oil- 1 tbsp
Rasuna (Garlic cloves) – 8-10
Dry red chilli  - 1-2
Onion – 1 small
Paanch Phutan – 1 tsp  
( Paanch Phutan is a simple mix of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds in a rough proportion of, say 5:3:2:1: a few seeds. It is a very common tempering mix used too often in Odia and Bengal cuisines.)

Water – 2 cups, Rice stock – as required, about 2 cups
Salt to taste ( about 2 tsp for this huge quantity )


In a kadai (wok), heat water (2 cups) and add moong dal for boiling. As white scum starts showing up, just take it out from the surface and discard. Do this a few times to almost clear the scum. After about 5 mins add arbi(saru)- diced small- and let it boil. Add salt and a pinch of haldi. When water content starts reducing, keep adding bits of rice stock ( bhata peja – the liquid we usually discard after boiling rice), in batches, so that daal and arbi cook well without getting dry, or too watery. This way, right consistency is easy to maintain. Cook for about 15 mins till daal and arbi get tender and are almost on the verge of splitting ( check if you can mash them with the back of the ladle). Add the drumstick leaves, and a bit of chopped green chilli ( to taste ). Continue adding bits of rice stock in batches, as you keep stirring the saaga mix from time to time. ( If no rice stock is available, just add water for the right semi-solid consistency.) It should not take more than about 5 more mins for the leaves to get cooked.  Switch off.

Consistency : Semi-solid and moist, with daal and arbi blending nicely.

Heat mustard oil (1 tbsp). Crackle paanch phutan ( 1 tsp). Add crushed-n-chopped garlic cloves ( 8-10).  You may retain the peel of a few of the garlic cloves for more intense aroma! Saute till aromatic. Add dry red chilli ( 1-2), roughly broken and chopped onion ( 1 small, chopped a bit chunky, not fine). Saute for a while till onion is light brown and it gives out a nice fried aroma. Add this to Saaga preparation and immediately cover to trap the flavours.  Open and give it a quick mix. Serve hot with rice, along with other accompaniments. 

Such a simple, inexpensive dish and so rich in nutrients, and believe me, it is tasty though look-wise it may not be very inviting for some people! Do try.


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