Amaranth Greens are quite common in India, but are an unusual ingredient here and only available in specialist Asian markets.
S. Meenakshi Ammal and her book Cook and See, has a Kuzhambu that incorporates Amaranth Greens, perfect for when these are in season.
If you are interested, you can read about the differences between the sibling dishes of sambar and kuzhambu. See Sambar vs Kuzhambu for more information. This is a Poritha Kuzhambu as it contains lentils, and this one also contains tamarind.
Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind and Amaranth | Spicy Gravy with Tamarind and Greens
Source : S. Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 45 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it
1 bunch amaranth leaves, or you can also use drumstick leaves
4 green chillies
0.5 cup toor dal (red gram dal)
tamarind paste – either soak a golf ball sized piece of dried tamarind and strain, pushing it through the sieve and use the water and paste, or use about 1 tspn of pre-prepared tamarind paste available from Indian grocers.
salt to taste
rice flour for thickening
for spice paste
1.5 tspn coriander seeds
1 tspn channa dal (bengal gram dal)
0.75 tspn urad dal (black gram dal)
6 red chillies
1 Tblspn grated coconut (can use dried coconut) (optional)
Cook the toor dal in enough water until very soft. It can take an hour or more, depending on the age and dryness of the toor dal, but generally mine takes about 40 minutes. When it is cooked, use a hand held immersion blender to mash the dal a little.
Meanwhile, make the spice paste by dry roasting all of the ingredients individually in a saute pan until each turns golden and emits its wonderful aroma. Grind them together with a little ghee to make a coarse paste.
Next, cook the amaranth leaves. Put a pot of water on to boil. Cut the whole bunch into about 2.5 cm slices, from the stems to the head.
Take your green chillies, split them from the bottom to almost the head of the chilli, but leaving it intact. Put them into the boiling water. On top of these, put the bottom half of the bunch of amaranth, which is primarily stems, into the boiling water and gently boil for about 4 minutes. Then add the remainder of the bunch and cook for another 4 minutes. Using the immersion blender, blend the leaves coarsely. (I take the chillies out, blend, then put the chillies back into the dish.)
Add salt and tamarind to the greens, then stir in the cooked toor dal and mix. Add the spice paste, stir through and allow to simmer for another few minutes before removing from the heat. Stir in 1 more teaspoon or more of ghee and serve.
Eat over rice. A Kuzhambu is not really a soup, nor a gravy in the Western sense. There is no real English equivalent. It is delicious served over rice, but you can also break tradition and eat it like a soup.