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 superfood in adramatic avatar. 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, amaranth 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.
Maximising the grain
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 oats. 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.”
Shilpi Madan for Asian Age