Amaranth – The Indian Super Food, Health Benefits & Recipes

Amaranth is an emerging star in the list of super foods. But, hold on before you say you have not heard it's name before. Laddus made with this royal grain are a staple snack during childhood days. Amaranth in Hindi is known as Rajgira. Simply put, Rajgira means raj (royal) & gira (grain). Moreover, a few also know it as 'Ramdana', meaning God’s own grain.

It's interesting to note that the name is derived from the Greek term ‘Amarantos’ that means “one that does not wither,”. It is grown all throughout India, since, it can grow in harsh and lackluster nutrient conditions,. Furthermore, it is cultivated from the high slopes of the Himalayas to the many coastlines of the country.

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History of Amaranth:

Cultivated as a grain for 8,000 years, it is also a native species to the Andean region of South America. Grown across Argentina, Peru and Bolivia it goes by the name "kiwicha". Besides, today it is widely grown in the Andes region. Also known as "Incan Wheat", it was a staple food for the Incas

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Moreover, due to it's ease of digestion, it is common and staple ingredient in Indian homes. Mainly used during fasting days and festival time.

It is cultivated and consumed as a leafy vegetable in many parts of the world, due to it's dense nutritional profile. Also known as “Chaulai” in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, “Chua” in Kumaun area of Uttarakhand, “Cheera” in Kerala & “Shravani Maath” in Maharastra.

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Amaranth greens are popular world wide too. For example, in Indonesia and Malaysia, the leaves are called "Bayam". Used to make soup in Vietnam, it is called "rau dền". Furthermore, in Greece, green amaranth (Amaranthus viridis) is a popular dish and is called "vlita" or "vleeta"

Benefits of Amaranth:

A low-fat grain with a remarkable nutritional value and protein content, Amaranth is a valuable food source. Protein is essential for growth and the creation of new cells and tissues, as well as for more immediate energy needs and metabolic functionality. A cup to cup comparison reveals 28.1 grams of protein compared to the 26.3 grams in oats and 13.1 grams in rice.

Using amaranth in combination with wheat, corn or brown rice results in a complete protein level as high as the value found in fish, red meat, or poultry. Also, it is the only grain with documented vitamin C content.

Amanrath contains phytochemical compounds like rutin and nicotiflorin, and peptides with the ability to help lower hypertension

Higher in minerals, such as calcium, iron, phosphorous, and carotenoids, it helps prevent premature greying.  The calcium present, helps in bone development.
Rich in fiber, it helps in smooth digestion of food and facilitates an efficient uptake of minerals. Moreover, it is gluten free

It contains peptides and oils with anti inflammatory properties that helpease pain and reduce inflammation. Some studies show that it has cancer-preventing benefits too.

Additionally, studies show that consumption of amaranth may help lower cholesterol levels and prevent cardio vascular diseases.

The significant level of carotenoids and vitamin A found in amaranth leaves is a major boost for eye health, as these antioxidants can prevent macular degeneration and slow/stop the development of cataracts.

Furtjer, it aids in weight loss as the high protein consumption releases a “sated" hormone that suppresses the appetite.



Thanks to the potent vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, Amaranth helps to boost the overall immunity.

Easy Amaranth Recipes:

“Raab”a broth made from Amaranth flour, ghee, jaggery water, dry ginger powder is great if you are recovering from mild fevers, cold & flu.

For a healthy breakfast, boil Amaranth seeds in 2 or 3 cups of milk /water, add some apples or cranberries with some honey & serve hot.

Make energy rich laddus with the popped grain. Heat 1/2 cup jaggery with water till it melts. Strain to remove impurities. Heat the melted jaggery again till it thickens & switch off the heat. Add 1 1/2 cup popped Rajgira grain alongwith cardamom powder. Mix well. Apply ghee on hands & make round laddus.


Rajgira Theplas:

Gujarati households make delicious recipes with Rajgira Flour. Wicked Spoon Confessions went in hunt of one such delicious recipe.

Ingredients:

250 gms Rajgira Flour
1 teaspoon ghee (warmed)
1 medium sized boiled potato (mashed)
A pinch of black pepper powder
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins

Method:

Mix all ingredients and bind them with little water to make dough. Divide the dough into equal proportions. Place a plastic sheet on the rolling board and roll the theplas. Take care not to roll them too thin. Now heat a non stick pan and add a little ghee and roast the theplas till golden brown on both sides. Serve with green chutney and curds. Enjoy!



In conclusion, Amaranth is tipped be the crop of the future. A climate resilient vegetable crop that not only fights the climate change, it also fulfills the growing nutritional needs of human beings. If you are looking for more Indian superfoods recipes, click here

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