Amaranth is my favourite green. It reminds me of the spinach seller who comes bearing a basket of varieties of spinach to our doorstep in Chennai. A merry haggling session begins. She ups the prize knowing how much the human tendency is to love to bargain. Eventually everyone is happy, price lowered for the customer, adjusted to what she wisely knows is the right price anyway. Here’s my favourite simple amaranth soup recipe with a very important tip on how to preserve greens if you’re not planning to cook them rightaway.
4 cups loosely packed amaranth leaves, stems removed
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
2 red hot peppers
salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil
Pots n pans
• Wash, rinse and separate amaranth leaves from stem. Reserve stems separately for a recipe I’ll share another time.
SOS if not planning to use the amaranth or any other greens, here’s a surefire way to preserve your greens. Don’t wash the greens yet, do that when you’re ready to cook. Wrap in white kitchen towel, yes, it has to be white, it can have a border, mine has a red one but the body has to be white. Then place in a white plastic bag, again has to be white. I’ve been extending the life of cilantro this way for years since I just a use a few leaves each time and it easily lasts over 3 weeks without getting soggy.
• Heat fry pan. Add a drop of coconut oil. Add amaranth leaves, salt and 4 grains cumin seeds.
• When leaves are wilted remove from pan, let cool. Puree in food processor with 1 cup water or more if you like a thinner soup. Set aside.
• Heat fry pan. Add pureed spinach to pan & let everything come to gentle boil. This is to remove any raw taste.
• Add remaining oil and then spices in this order: mustard seeds, always first, since they take the longest to heat. When they splutter, add urad & when that is golden brown, quickly add red chilli, curry leaves, cumin and hing last. Pour spiced oil over amaranth.
• Remove from fire. Serve with Rice.
This ancient grain has been cultivated for over 8000 Years! Both mexican and indian cooking use amaranth extensively. In Madras, Amaranth is called Mulaikeerai.
Cooked amaranth leaves are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate; they are also a complementing source of other vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin, plus some dietary minerals including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese.
Amaranth seeds contain lysine, an essential amino acid, limited in other grains or plant sources. A great source of protein for those who are gluten sensitive, because unlike protein found in grains like wheat & rye, protein provided by amaranth seeds is gluten free.
Where to source Amaranth leaves
Your best bet is Chinese grocery stores that sell a majority of east Indian vegetables. Sometimes I’m awed when I enter Chinese stores to find so many common fruits and vegetables. I loved to see the New Year decorations too & wishing you all a wonderful Chinese New Year. You can’t miss amaranth, brightly coloured with red strokes through the leaf, I tend to think indicate heart healthy. If you get lucky and see baby amaranth leaves, don’t think twice, I repeat don’t..Just grab them, flavour wise there is no second.
SOS update –just finished dinner with this soup.. I ended up thinning it down even more with an extra cup of water, so you can actually extend the soup to serve 4!! it didn’t dilute the flavour one bit.
Hope you make this delectable mulaikeerai or amaranth soup.
– soul of spice –