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  Age on Sunday   03 Feb 2019  The cosmopolitan grain

The cosmopolitan grain

Published : Feb 3, 2019, 8:31 am IST
Updated : Feb 3, 2019, 8:31 am IST

The humble home-grown amaranth with all its natural goodness is being championed in the superfoods kitty again.

Matcha Amaranth Waffles.
 Matcha Amaranth Waffles.

Walk into the celebrated Japanese restaurant Yuuka, at the St Regis, during your next trip to Mumbai and be floored by the rather glamorously poised, avocado tartare on a delectable amaranth puff that’s served with a spicy corn sauce. This spectacular rendition on the plate uses the humble amaranth. From being the sacred Aztec grain to wielding powers of healing and stepping up immunity, the nutritious amaranth has come a long way. With healthy living on everyone’s agenda, this gentle grain whose complexion in leaves ranges from green to purplish red has tremendous nutritional benefits. Says international chef Sarah Todd, “Amaranth is a hidden gem. It is tasty, extremely high in nutrient content and is a fantastic grain to add that extra punch of protein. It is gluten-free and leaves you feeling light and fulfilled. Even more importantly, it is a superfood readily available in India, making it much cheaper than quinoa but with three times the protein. Moreover, you can make use of amaranth to make salads and dishes that are even more healthy as there is no heat involved in some preparations, making it the best way to partner nutrition with indulgence.” The protein powerhouse wings in from the plant kingdom, making it a stellar choice for vegetarians to build upon those coveted muscles and stamina levels.

In addition to this, the edible seeds, leaves and roots of the amaranth plant make it a multi-purpose ingredient that can be readily brought into many recipes. “Amaranth is also rich in anti oxidants and gifts you a glowing skin and mane as well,” says Mumbai-based Dr Pratibha Sukre, a general physician. “Since it regularises cholesterol levels and strengthens your bones and vision, it is a favoured inclusion in your diet, especially for women,” she adds. You can bring often-ignored cousin of the spinach into your daily intake in many ways to pour in the vitamin and minerals cocktail it brings along, into your plate. Chennai-based dietician Deepalekha Banerjee suggests, “Steam amaranth to prepare salads together with flax seeds, cook amaranth along with rice to accompany a gravy dish; add it to chicken to whip up lag saag murg. If you are a vegetarian, you can opt for another tasty dish like lal saag soy.” It’s subtle nutty flavour makes it a popular inclusion in health bars together with granola, nuts and oa
ts. Sprinkle the seeds onto salads for a welcome crunch, run into soups on slow boil or spin into pancakes with egg whites, the options are endless. Says Chef Sareen Madhiyan of Tappa restobar in Mumbai, “Amaranth is a great substitute for people with wheat intolerance. It’s easy to cook and is easily digestible also; it’s low in carbohydrates and rich in fibre, making it an ideal ingredient for all those who are health conscious.”

Amaranth and Broccoli salad, pickled onion and sultanas with avocado chilli-lime dressing — by Chef Sarah Todd

1 cup amaranth seeds, soaked overnight (or brown rice if too hard to find)
2 heads broccoli, chopped into small florets
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup raisins (unsweetened)
50 gm feta, crumbled for pickled onion
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ red onion, thinly sliced for avocado chilli-lime dressing
1 medium ripe avocado,
pitted and peeled
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp red vinegar
1 tbsp honey
½ fresh green chilli, chopped
½ cup basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for taste

Strain amaranth and place in a pot with water and cook for 30 minutes. Place a colander on top and add the broccoli and steam until just tender but still with a bite.
Cool immediately in ice-cold water. Drain and set aside. Once amaranth is cooked allow cooling to room temperature.
For the pickled onion, in a small bowl, pour the red wine vinegar over the sliced onions and set aside for 10 mins or until ready to use.
In a small frying pan on medium heat, dry fry the almonds for one minute until they are slightly golden and set aside.
In a large salad bowl, add the amaranth, broccoli, nuts, seeds and raisins and mix thoroughly. Strain the onions and set the red vinegar aside. Add the pickled onion to the large salad bowl and stir.
For the dressing, place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on medium speed/power for 30 seconds. Drizzle the dressing over salad.
Add the feta and almonds and lightly toss, then season with taste and serve.


Matcha Amaranth Waffles — by chef Swasti Aggarwal

3 whole eggs
1 cup cashews
1/3 cup almond milk
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp matcha tea powder
¼ tbsp salt
¾ tbsp baking soda
3 tbsp amaranth flour

Heat waffle iron to and lightly spray with non-stick cooking oil. You may even brush on a little coconut oil if you don’t have a spray.
Blend together eggs, cashews, almond milk, maple syrup, coconut oil and matcha tea powder until smooth.
Add salt, baking soda and amaranth flour and blend again until everything has mixed through.
Spoon one to two tablespoons of batter into waffle iron and cook for one to two minutes, or until done.
Lift the lid, remove the waffle from the iron and set aside.
Repeat with remaining batter.


Tags: food recipes