Thursday, September 1, 2011

Amaranth: Stacking Functions Left and Right.

You may have read an earlier short post I published on the wonder grain amaranth. But I thought I would post again, as I've discovered an absolutely wonderful use of the grain... in sushi:

Homemade sushi: amaranth, cucumber, carrots, fresh ginger, tempeh and shitaake.

You can prepare the amaranth by simply boiling 1 part amaranth to 1.5 parts water. I let the grain boil for about 10 minutes, then I keep stirring until finished to acheive a creamy texture. For the sushi "rice," I added a bit of rice wine vineger and a touch of demerara sugar to the cooked grain for a bit of added flavor. Rolling your own sushi is incredibly easy. It was my first attempt, and I am now a complete convert. Never again a sushi out at a restaurant! I always have either cooked rice in the fridge or amaranth in the pantry. We stock carrots because we love making fresh carrot juice in the juicer. And just about any vegetables work for the filling. And one packet of Nori (seaweed sheets) has about 10 sheets, so the packet I purchased yesterday should last for a while.

Amaranth growing prolifically in the UCBG Crops of the World Garden

Amaranth (Amaranthus sp. ) is truly a wonder plant. It has been grown and used as a food source for some 7,000 years! The seeds have been used all around the world as a grain that serves as a complete protein, a source of fiber and minerals. When we were in India it was available and we used the grains to replace rice, to make chapattis and to make more wholesome dosas and idlies. The grains are gluten-free. They were a staple food of the Incas, who called it "kiwicha" and who also popped the small grains and mixed them with honey to make a sweet candy called "Alegria," which by the way means "joy" in Spanish. Amaranth was also eaten by the Aztecs who called it "huautli"

The plant itself is easy to grow, provides thousands of seeds/grains per plant, and the seeds themselves are easy to cook requiring little water, and not much fuel to do so.

The leaves are also highly nutritious and are consumed across many cultures in Africa and Southeast Asia.

In North America, amaranth was used by the Hopi as a natural dye as a brilliant source of deep red. This particular species of amaranth now carries that name, 'Hopi Red Dye' (Amaranthus cruentus or Amaranthus cruentus x A. powellii)

Amaranth is easily grown in our Bay Area climate. The grains are also available at most grocery stores or natural food stores. For my friends across the country and in between, Whole Foods is a reliable source of Amaranth grains. I encourage you all to try it out! And if you already have, try it in a new way, replacing rice, adding loosely cooked grains to salads, making Alegria, or....


Erin said...

Deepa, thanks for the kick in the butt about using amaranth;) I always need new grain inspiration! I have been on a quinoa kick for a while, but have yet to cook amaranth. Do you ever use the leaves? I took a cooking class in Bali and we used amaranth greens in a veggie fritter. It was so tasty.

plants people said...

Amaranth is amazing! Can wait to see what creations you make with it :)

Yes, I have used the leaves, haven't done anything wild, mostly just saute like other greens, they taste great with a lemon & tahini sauce.

In India they make a dish with they greens and crumbles of steamed lentil.