Saina Fiji Style | Sahena Recipe | Patra

Saina is such a special snack/dish for us Fijians. It is a dish that takes times, but its so treasured because the work behind it is so worth it! Saina is made with fresh taro leaves (taro leaves) stuffed with a lentil, gram flour, and spice mixture. It is first steamed until fully cooked then fried to give it a crunchy texture outside. Although it may not be the simplest dish, it is definitely on the top of the list of "most yummy snacks." My family (and I) enjoy this with some tamarind (imli) chutney and a cup of hot chai.

Today's recipe includes an alternative to taro leaves. Because taro leaves are hard to find in all seasons here in the U.S., I tried using Swiss Chard in its place and it came out perfect! The first time I made it, I didn't tell anyone that it wasn't made with taro leaves and nobody could tell the difference. It is now well-loved by my entire family. Swiss Chard is so much easier to grow and access throughout the year here and I am so happy to share this recipe with you!

Here is what you'll need:

  • 10-20 Swiss Chard or taro leaves 
  • 1 cup moong dal [soaked overnight or minimum of two hours]
  • 1 cup yellow split peas [soaked overnight or minimum of two hours]
  • 1 cup gram flour [besan] 
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch of ginger
  • Chili peppers to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin powder 
  • 1 tsp Fiji masala/garam masala
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric [optional]
  • 1-2 tbsp tamarind pulp/concentrate
  • salt to taste

  • Soak moong dal and split peas overnight or for at least two hours in warm water.
  • Grind lentils along with garlic, ginger, and peppers in blender/grinder until you have a smooth paste.
  • In a bowl, mix dhal/lentil paste  ↑ with gram flour, cumin powder, turmeric powder, Fiji/garam masala, tamarind pulp, and salt. Set aside.
  • Thoroughly wash/clean swiss chard or taro leaves. Remove stalks. 
  • To assemble, place the largest of the 5 leaves and spread with small amounts of dhal/lentil. mixture all over that leaf. Repeat with the remaining leaves from largest to smallest leaves.
  • Then carefully roll to make your first large roll and tuck in the ends. Wrap the rolls with saran wrap if they don't seem tight enough. Wrapping with saran wrap helps the rolls stay tight. 
  • Repeat until you have enough desired rolls. I made 2 rolls with about 20 leaves and the dhal mixture. 
  • Add boiling water to a steamer or large pot and steam the rolls for 30-40 minutes on medium heat.
  • Cool completely, for about 2-3 hours and then cut 1 inch slices and shallow fry in hot oil till golden brown.
Video showing you how its made  ↓ ↓ ↓ 

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