Amaranth is loved across India (and features strongly in a range of Asian cuisines). All parts are used – the seeds are well known outside India, and at the moment they are fashionable and quite popular. But in India the leaves are also used, and the young, tender stems as well.
Amaranth leaves are available in Asian shops so keep an eye out for them. There are different varieties – some are green, but others often contain a tinge of red. Beautiful indeed.
Meenakshi Ammal in her cookbooks Cook and See mentions Amaranth leaves and stems a lot in her sections on sambars and kuzhambu recipes. This recipe she calls (in English) Greens Soup with Tamarind and it sits in the chapter of Poritha Kuzhambu. It is an unusual name given that soups are not traditionally part of the Tamil cuisine (although they are popular more recently). I wonder if the name in Tamil is quite different. However, she certainly got the colour correct!
This recipe is a cousin to this one of the same name. While that one uses Pitlay spices but not a tadka, this recipe uses sambar powder with a tadka. Both are pretty special and you should try them both. This one is closer to this Poritha Koottu with Tamarind.
Similar recipes include Amaranth Leaf Masiyal, Poritha Kuzhambu dishes and Poritha Kootu recipes. Try Plain Masiyal of Amaranth Leaves, Moar Kuzhambu, Lentil Balls in a Spicy Gravy, and Vatral Kuzhambu.
But why not browse all of our Kuzhambu recipes, and all Indian Soups? Or explore our Amaranth dishes, and our complete Indian Recipe Collection. Or take some time to check out our easy Early Autumn dishes.
South Indian Amaranth Leaves Soup with Tamarind
The amounts of sambar powder, tamarind and salt are guidelines only and can be adjusted according to the quality of the ingredients and one’s personal tastes.
0.5 cup toor dal (red gram dal)
1 bunch amaranth leaves
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.
pinch jaggery (optional – as a conterbalance to the slight bitterness of the leaves. I prefer without, but add it if you wish. )
pinch baking soda (optional – helps to tenderise the amaranth leaves)
1 tspn sambar powder
1 tspn rice flour
pinch asafoetida dissolved in water
salt to taste
0.5 tspn brown mustard seeds
0.5 tspn channa dal (Bengal gram)
2 tspn ghee
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.
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. Cook for 5 – 8 minutes until tender and then blend until smooth. A hand held immersion blender will be fine.
Add the tamarind, salt, jaggery and sambar powder. Boil well and add the dal. Mix very well and bring back to the boil again.
Thicken the soup if you wish, by mixing the rice flour mixed with water until it can be poured smoothly into the hot soup, then stir while you pour. Continue to stir for a couple of minutes while the soup simmers.
Add the asafoetida water and mix well while the soup simmers.
To make the tadka, melt the ghee in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop, and add the channa dal. When it turns golden, pour the tadka including the ghee onto the soup and mix.
Serve and enjoy!
recipe notes and alternatives
This can be eaten with rice, or as a soup.
Use drumstick leaves instead of amaranth leaves.