Amaranth Greens are quite common in India, but are an unusual ingredient here and only available in specialist Asian markets, unless you grow your own. We have rows and rows of them throughout the garden because they look so beautiful.
S. Meenakshi Ammal in Vol 1 of her book Cook and See, has a Poritha 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 recipe is a Poritha Kuzhambu, close to the Pitlay variety with its special spice mix and toor dal. Ammal does not call it Pitlay and it does have some differences, but it uses a Pitlay spice mix.
Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind and Amaranth Leaves | Amaranth Soup with Tamarind
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
0.5 cup toor dal (red gram dal)
bunch amaranth leaves
4 green chillies, or to taste
pinch baking soda
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
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, or to taste
1 Tblspn grated coconut (can use frozen coconut) (optional)
Cook the toor dal in enough water until very soft. This will take 30-40 mins, but can take longer if the toor dal is older and drier. When it is cooked, you can use a hand held immersion blender to mash the dal a little if desired.
Meanwhile, make the spice paste by sautéing all of the ingredients in the ghee in a saute pan until they turn golden. Grind them together to make a coarse paste, adding a little water if necessary. Keep aside.
Next, cook the amaranth leaves. Put a pot of water on to boil and add a pinch baking soda. Cut the whole bunch of amaranth into about 2.5 cm slices, from the stems to the head. If the stems are very coarse and fibrous, discard them.
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, jaggery and tamarind to the greens, then stir in the cooked toor dal and mix well. 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.
recipe notes and alternatives
This can be eaten with rice, or as a soup.
Use drumstick leaves instead of amaranth leaves.