Shak Vorta Recipe | Saag Ghota | Mashed Greens

5 from 1 vote
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Shak Vorta or Saag Ghota or Mashed Greens is a traditional Bengali dish that showcases the vibrant flavors of mashed greens, typically spinach or amaranth leaves.

This dish is known for its simplicity and bold, spicy taste. Shak Vorta is a delightful fusion of earthy greens, pungent mustard oil, fiery green chilies, and aromatic spices.

It’s a staple in Bengali cuisine, often served as a side dish or accompaniment to rice and other main courses.

In this recipe, I’ll guide you through the process of making Shak Vorta from scratch, using fresh greens.

Shak Vorta Featured Image

Key Takeaways:

  • Saag Ghota is a popular and nutritious dish in Indian cuisine, known for its vibrant flavors.
  • It is made with leafy greens such as spinach and can include other greens like mustard greens or chickpea greens.
  • Shak vorta has a rich and earthy taste, with a balanced blend of spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ginger.
  • It is commonly served with rice, naan bread, roti, or paratha, offering a variety of options for accompaniments.

The Ingredients:

Shak Vorta Ingredients

  • Spinach 1 bundle (cleaned and chopped)
  • Chickpea greens: 1 bundle (cleaned and chopped)
  • Garlic: 2 pieces (grated finely)
  • Green chilies: 5 to 6 pieces
  • Salt: As required
  • Mustard oil: 2 tbsp

How to Make Shak Vorta (Step by Step Images)?

1. Place a wok on a gas stove and let it heat up. Once hot, add water as required (approximately 250ml). Cover the wok with a lid.

Heating water

2. When the water starts to boil, add the spinach, chickpea greens and green chilis.

(Expert tip: Adjust the amount of green chilies according to your preferred level of spiciness. Note that these greens are typically enjoyed with a bit of spiciness.)

Cover the lid and let them cook for 2 minutes.

Adding spinach, chickpea greens and green chilis

3. Stir all the ingredients once and add ½ teaspoon of salt.

(Expert tip: Avoid adding too much salt as the greens will reduce in volume when cooked and it will taste salty. The salt is added to help soften the greens.)

Cover it again with the lid.

Adding salt to the greens and covering with lid

4. Open the lid and stir it again to check if it has boiled properly.

(Expert tip: If desired, you can add masoor dal or red lentils to this dish when cooking with only spinach or any other greens apart from chickpea greens. It adds great taste. You can also add rice flour to thicken the paste, if desired.)

Cover it with the lid again. As the water reduces, the greens will become soft and mushy.

5. Once again, open the lid and check if there is a little bit of water remaining in the wok. Use a smasher to gently mash the greens. Keep the gas flame low to medium. You can also use a steel bowl to mash them.

Mashing the greens

6. The mashed greens should not be completely dry; they should have some water content so that when sautéed in oil, they turn out perfectly.

Mashed greens perfectly

7. Heat another wok on the gas stove and add 2 and a half spoons of oil to sauté the mashed greens.

Adding oil to the wok

8. When the oil is hot, add the grated garlic and sauté it lightly for 2 to 3 seconds.

Add the grated garlic and sautéing

9. Once the garlic turns slightly red, add the mashed greens and increase the flame. Stir all the ingredients until the water is completely reduced. Stir it for 5 minutes.

Add the mashed greens and stirring

10. At this point, add less than a tablespoon of salt and mix it well with the mashed greens.

Adding salt and mixing with mashed greens

11. The mashed greens are almost ready. You’ll notice that they have turned into a smooth, mushy paste.

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mashed greens turned into smooth, mushy paste

12. Transfer Shak vorta to a bowl and garnish with a green chili and a slice of lemon.

Shak vorta ready

Pro Tips for Making Shak Vorta

Here are some pro tips to help you make a flavorful and authentic Shak vorta:

Choose the right greens: Fresh and tender greens are key to a flavorful Saag ghota. Spinach is the most commonly used green, but you can also try a combination of spinach and mustard greens for a more robust flavor.

Blanch the greens (optional): Before blending or cooking the greens, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes. This helps retain their vibrant green color and prevents them from turning dull and overcooked.

Spice it up: Use a combination of aromatic spices to enhance the flavor of your Shak vorta. Common spices include cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and garam masala. Toast whole spices before grinding for a more intense flavor.

Tempering with ghee: For added richness and depth of flavor, temper the Saag ghota with ghee (clarified butter). Heat ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds, dried red chilies, and asafoetida before adding it to the curry.

Texture and thickness: Saag ghota can be made to your preferred consistency. For a smoother texture, use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the cooked greens. If you prefer a chunkier texture, blend only a portion of the greens and leave some whole.

Simmer for flavors to meld: Allow the Shak vorta to simmer for some time to allow the flavors to meld together. This helps develop a richer and more complex taste.

Remember, Shak bhorta is a versatile dish, and you can adjust the spices and ingredients to suit your taste preferences.

What to Serve with Shak Vorta?

Here are some popular options to serve with Shak vorta:

Rice: Serve Shal vorta with steamed basmati rice or fragrant pulao rice. The mild and fluffy rice complements the creamy and spiced saag curry.

Naan Bread: Naan is a soft and pillowy Indian bread that is perfect for scooping up Shak vorta. You can serve plain naan or opt for variations like garlic naan or butter naan for added flavor.

Roti/Chapati: Another traditional Indian bread, roti or chapati, is a healthier alternative to naan. It is a whole wheat flatbread that is lightly cooked on a griddle and can be torn into pieces and used to scoop up the Shaak bharta.

Paratha: Paratha is a flaky and layered Indian bread made with whole wheat flour. It is a delicious choice to serve alongside Shak bharta. You can make plain paratha or stuffed parathas with fillings like potato, paneer, or spinach.

Puri: Puri is a deep-fried bread that is puffy and crispy. It adds a delightful crunch to the Saag ghota. Serve it hot and fresh for the best taste.

Jeera Rice: Jeera rice, also known as cumin rice, is a fragrant rice dish cooked with cumin seeds. Its subtle flavors complement the Saag ghota well.

These are just some ideas, and you can mix and match according to your preferences. Feel free to experiment and explore different combinations to create a well-rounded and satisfying meal with Shak vorta.

How Does Shak Vorta Taste?

Saag Curry Taste

The taste of Shak vorta can vary slightly depending on the recipe and the spices used, but here are some general characteristics:

Earthy: Saag ghota has a deep, earthy flavor. This comes from the combination of spinach or other leafy greens used in the dish, along with spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric.

Mildly Spiced: While Shak bharta can have a bit of spiciness, it is generally considered a mild curry. The heat level can be adjusted according to personal preference.

Vegetal: The prominent flavor of Shak vorta comes from the greens used, such as spinach or mustard greens. These greens impart a distinct vegetal taste to the curry, which is balanced by the spices and other ingredients.

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Balanced: A well-made Saag ghota strikes a balance between the earthiness of the greens, and the aromatic spices. The flavors should complement each other, resulting in a harmonious and delicious dish.

It’s important to note that Shak vorta can vary in taste depending on regional variations and personal preferences. Some recipes may have additional ingredients or variations in spice levels, giving each Shak bharta its unique taste.

Shak Vorta Alternatives

If you’re looking for alternatives to Shak Vorta, which is a Bengali dish made from mashed greens like spinach or amaranth leaves, typically mixed with mustard oil, green chilies, and spices, you can explore a variety of other vegetable side dishes or mashed preparations. Here are some alternatives:

Aloo Bharta: Aloo bharta is a popular Indian dish made from mashed potatoes. You can add roasted or sautéed onions, green chilies, mustard oil, and spices to create a flavorful mashed potato dish.

Baingan Bharta: Baingan bharta is an Indian dish made from roasted and mashed eggplant. You can add onions, tomatoes, garlic, green chilies, and spices to enhance the flavor.

Mashed Cauliflower: Steam or boil cauliflower florets and mash them with garlic, butter, and seasonings to create a creamy and low-carb alternative.

Okra Stir-Fry: Sauté sliced okra with spices and seasonings for a crispy and flavorful side dish.

Mashed Peas: Boil peas and mash them with butter, mint, and seasonings for a simple yet tasty alternative.

These alternatives offer a variety of flavors and textures, so you can choose the one that best suits your preferences and dietary requirements.

Recipe Card:

Shak Vorta Featured Image

Shak Vorta (Saag Ghota, Mashed Greens)

By Mita Mondal
Shak Vorta is a traditional Bengali dish that consists of mashed greens, often made with spinach or amaranth leaves. The word "Shak" in Bengali refers to leafy greens, and "Vorta" means mash or mash-up.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 162 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 400 grams Spinach (cleaned and chopped)
  • 250 grams Chickpea greens (cleaned and chopped)
  • 2 pieces Garlic (grated finely)
  • 6 pieces Green chili
  • tablespoons Mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat a wok on a gas stove. Once hot, add approximately 250ml of water and cover the wok with a lid.
  • When the water starts boiling, add the spinach, chickpea greens, and green chilies. Adjust the amount of green chilies according to your preferred level of spiciness, keeping in mind that a bit of spiciness is typical for this dish.
  • Cover the lid and let the greens cook for 2 minutes.
  • Stir the ingredients once and add ½ teaspoon of salt. Be cautious with the salt as the greens will reduce in volume when cooked, and adding too much salt can make the dish taste overly salty. The salt helps soften the greens.
  • Cover the wok again with the lid.
  • Open the lid and stir the greens to ensure they are boiling properly.
  • If desired, you can enhance the flavor by adding masoor dal or red lentils when cooking with spinach or other greens besides chickpea greens. Additionally, you can thicken the paste by adding rice flour if desired.
  • Cover the wok with the lid again. As the water reduces, the greens will become soft and mushy.
  • Open the lid and check if there is a small amount of water remaining in the wok. Use a smasher or a steel bowl to gently mash the greens. Keep the gas flame on low to medium heat. It's important to retain some water content in the mashed greens for a perfect sauté.
  • Heat another wok on the gas stove and add 2 and a half spoons of oil to sauté the mashed greens.
  • When the oil is hot, add grated garlic and lightly sauté them.
  • Once the garlic turns slightly red, add the mashed greens and increase the flame. Stir the ingredients until the water is completely reduced, sautéing for about 5 minutes.
  • At this point, add less than a tablespoon of salt and mix it well with the mashed greens.
  • The mashed greens are almost ready, having turned into a smooth, mushy paste.
  • Transfer the Shak vorta to a bowl and garnish it with a green chili and a slice of lemon.

Video

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Notes

Greens: Shak vorta traditionally uses spinach as the main green, but you can also experiment with other leafy greens like mustard greens, collard greens, or kale. You can even combine multiple greens for added flavor and variety.
Spiciness: Adjust the spiciness of the vorta by adding or reducing the amount of green chilies according to your taste preferences. Keep in mind that Shak vorta typically has a bit of spiciness to it.
Salt: Be cautious with the amount of salt you add to the curry. Since the greens reduce in volume when cooked, it's easy to overdo the salt. Start with a small amount and adjust as needed, tasting as you go.
Additional Ingredients: Feel free to add additional ingredients to enhance the flavor of your Shak vorta. Some popular choices include garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes, and spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala. Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite flavor profile.
Optional Additions: As mentioned earlier, you can add masoor dal or red lentils to the dish when cooking with only spinach or other greens apart from chickpea greens. This adds a delightful taste and texture. Additionally, if you prefer a thicker consistency, you can incorporate rice flour into the paste.
Mashing the Greens: When mashing the greens, ensure they retain some water content. This will help the sautéed greens turn out perfectly and not become too dry.
Garnish: The traditional garnish for Saag Ghota or Vorta includes a green chili and a slice of lemon. However, you can get creative with your garnishes and add fresh herbs like cilantro or a dollop of yogurt for a refreshing twist.
Serving Suggestions: Shak vorta is typically enjoyed with rice, roti, naan, or paratha.

Nutrition Info (Estimation Only)

Nutrition Facts
Shak Vorta (Saag Ghota, Mashed Greens)
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
162
Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
10
g
15
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Sodium
 
956
mg
42
%
Potassium
 
560
mg
16
%
Carbohydrates
 
13
g
4
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
 
0.5
g
1
%
Protein
 
7
g
14
%
Vitamin A
 
9377
IU
188
%
Vitamin C
 
28
mg
34
%
Calcium
 
313
mg
31
%
Iron
 
18
mg
100
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Conclusion

Shak vorta is a flavorful and nutritious dish originating from the Bengal region of Indian subcontinent.

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It is typically made with leafy greens such as spinach or mustard greens, cooked with aromatic spices

It is often served with rice or bread, making it a satisfying and versatile meal option.

Shak vorta offers a delicious way to enjoy the goodness of leafy greens and Bengal flavors in a comforting and nourishing dish.

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