Collard greens and cornbread – it’s a classic Southern combo. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an event below the Mason-Dixon without some form of collard greens and cornbread on the table. The crumbly bread beautifully complements the juiciness of the greens; it’s a classic side dish that folks can’t get enough of.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for adaptations. Chef Meherwan Irani – owner of restaurants Chai Pani, MG Road, Botiwalla, and Buxton Hall – has an Indian-style collard greens and cornbread recipe that takes the comfort of this Southern dish and enhances it with beloved Indian spices. He's teamed up with Chef Vish Bhatt of Mississippi-based Snackbar to bring flavors of an Indian childhood into a classic dish.
The collard greens are steamed to perfection in a combination of mustard seeds, turmeric, ginger, garlic, asafetida, caramelized onions, cumin, and cilantro, while the cornbread is made with grits, flour, and clarified butter. Indian cornbread is more reminiscent of a tortilla than classic Southern cornbread, but it’s still delicious – and a perfect complement to the collard greens.
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 serrano pepper, diced
1 large red onion, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon garam masala
4 bunches collard greens, chopped
How to Make It
FOR COLLARDS (SAAG): Blanch collard greens. Place mustard seeds in oil. Sizzle cumin seeds, and add diced ginger and green chiles; cook until soft. Add ginger-garlic paste and brown lightly. Add diced onions and brown well. Add salt. Add chopped cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes until darkened and mixed well with spices.
Add chili powder, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, and garam masala, and fry (add a splash of water to prevent clumping) until mixed. Add crushed tomatoes and cook until glossy and oil separates around the edges.
Add the blanched greens and a splash of heavy cream. Add hot water. Simmer 7-10 minutes. Add salt to taste. Garnish with a pinch of fresh garam masala and fresh cilantro.
FOR CORNBREAD (ROTI): Mix cornmeal (or grits) and atta (whole wheat flour). Add salt, oil, and water. Knead dough and separate into small balls. With a touch of oil on hands, shape into small discs. Flatten with rolling pin using plenty of flour to prevent sticking.