July 21, 2017

Regarded as a superfood in contemporary times, Amaranth is a 8000-year-old Aztec staple that has been rescued from obscurity and finds a place on dinner tables across the world.

When the Spanish invaded South America in the 16th century, their missionary zeal led to the banning of amaranth which the Aztecs used to create sculptures of the gods. Faced with punishment, amaranth was hidden from the world. It continued to be grown across the globe, in Africa, India, China, Russia, and North America. In recent days has been hailed as a ‘super-food’. 

Dulce de allegra
Dulce de alegria Credit: Abby Yang, Wikimedia Commons

A tall leafy plant with bright red or gold flowers, amaranth seeds are highly nutritious, contains more essential amino acids than any other plant source, and is the only grain to include Vitamin C. It is known to help prevent a number of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Best of all, it is gluten free.

Amaranth is versatile and the grain lends itself to salads as well as to upmas with elan. It can be powdered and made into rotis too. Mexico also has a special skull shaped sweet made out of popped amaranth and honey. Called dulce de alegria or ‘sweet delight’, they are distributed during the Mexican Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead celebrations.  

Tabbouleh Style Amaranth Salad

Amaranth 1
Credit: NOW Foods

What you need:

  1. Cold Water: 2 cups
  2. Red Onion: 1 cup finely chopped
  3. Olive Oil: 2 tbsp
  4. Red Pepper: ¼ tsp
  5. Whole-grain Amaranth: ½ cup
  6. Fresh Mint: ¼ cup chopped
  7. Lemon Rind: 1 tsp grated
  8. Chickpeas: ½ cup
  9. Cucumber: 2 cups diced
  10. Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley: ¼ cup chopped
  11. Lemon Juice: 2 tbsp
  12. Feta Cheese: 1 cup, crumbled
  13. Celery: ½ cup thinly sliced
  14. Pine Nuts: ¼ cup toasted
  15. Salt

What you do:

  1. Add amaranth to the cold water and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, until water is almost absorbed by the grain.
  2. Mix the other ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Cool the amaranth by placing it on a fine mesh sieve and rinsing under cold running water. Drain completely.
  4. Add the amaranth to the mixture. Serve cold.

Amaranth Tikkis

Tikkis
Credit: NDTV Food

What you need:

  1. Amaranth seeds: 1 cup
  2. Water: 2 cups
  3. Oil: 1 tbsp
  4. Garlic: 3 cloves, finely minced
  5. Onion: 1, finely chopped
  6. Zucchini: 1/2 cup, finely chopped
  7. Red Bell Pepper: 1/2 cup, finely chopped
  8. Salt, to taste
  9. Chilli Powder: 1/4 tbsp
  10. Amchoor Powder: a pinch
  11. Garam Masala: 1 tbsp
  12. Coriander Powder: 1/2 tsp
  13. Lemon Zest: 1/2 tsp
  14. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  15. Oil: 2 tbsp
  16. Amaranth Flour 

What you do

  1. Add the amaranth in 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Season the amaranth with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Keep aside.
  3. In a separate pan, saute the onion and the garlic. Add the zucchini and the red pepper. Stir-fry for 5 minutes
  4. Add the lemon zest, garam masala powder, coriander powder, red chilli, amchoor and black pepper. Stir fry for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Mix this with the amaranth. Let it cool.
  6. Make the mixture into patties and coat them in amaranth flour.
  7. Pan fry till golden brown.

Amaranth Upma

Upma
Credit: www.goo.gl/mq9h9X

What you need:

  1. Amaranth Grains: 1 cup
  2. Onion: 1, chopped
  3. Carrot: 1, chopped
  4. Tomato: 1, chopped
  5. Add other vegetables as desired such as beans or peas
  6. Green Chilies: 1-2, chopped
  7. Ginger: 1, chopped
  8. Curry Leaves: 5-6
  9. Dry Split Yellow Peas (channa dal): 1 tsp
  10. White Gram (moong dal): 1 tsp
  11. Mustard Seeds: 1 tsp
  12. Cashews: 1/4 cup
  13. Oil: 1-2 tbsp
  14. Ghee: 1-2 tsp

What you do:

  1. Fry the cashews, channa dal, moong dal and mustard seeds till they turn light brown in colour.
  2. Add the curry leaves, green chilli, ginger, onion and fry till the onion turns translucent. Add the rest of the vegetables, salt and water, and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the amaranth seeds and continue cooking until all the water evaporates.
  4. Add the ghee and serve hot.

  Text by Marcelle Symss. Find more scrumptious DIY recipes, in our food and drink category.