Two pictures of my baby kutti Amaranths grown from Organic Rajgira seeds
Now, plants hate me because I usually approach them with love and affection but eventually kill them off! It is not neglect, I take care of them, but they still die on me. Whats a girl to do? I have been eyeing the lovely Amaranth recipes Indira has at Mahanandi for a while now. We donot get Amaranth leaves in our local farmers market.So finally I decided to grow these in a pot on my windowsill.
My mother in law sent me a copy of the English edition of the famous Tamil cookbook Samaithu paar, which had an, "Amaranth kootu/ Mulaikeerai recipe"- This is when I realised that Mulaikeerai is an Amaranth. My mom grew up having Molakeerai or Araikeerai Kootu everyday of the week - Both of which turned out to be Amaranths. Yay! Growing Amaranth myself now brought me closer to my moms roots too- an unexpected bonus.
Did you know that amaranth is over 4000 years old? Or that it was found at a Harappan site(Surkotada, Kutch: Gujarat)? I did not!
KT Achaya's Indian Food, a Historical Companion is the first book that my husband H. bought me from the Oxford University Press. It is not a work you read from cover to cover because of its serious academic tone, but whenever I dip into it - I come away with fascinating historical insights into Indian food.
Some other fascinating tidbits about amaranth from this book:
Amaranth is a genus with many different species. The most common amaranth grain variety in India is A. hybridus. It is also called ramdhana, chua, bathua , pungikeerai or thotakura in India. Rajgeera itself comes from the variant A. hybridus subsp. cruentus whose leaves are eaten as chaulai, mathbhaji or pungikeerai.
The third species A. caudatus is an ornamental garden plant also called love lies bleedng, and it was originally brought in from South America. The Picture on the left is of Love lies Bleeding and is from Britannica. I seem to remember this plant lurking in the gardens of my childhood.
Three other Amaranthus species are found in India, with Sanskrit names and probably of Indian origin.
A. Spinosus, in Sanskrit Alpamarisha, in Hindi Kantachaula and in Tamil Mulaikeerai.
A. Tricolor, in Sanskrit Marisha, makanada or tanduliya, Hindi Chaulai and Tamil Araikerai or thandukeerai.
A. Viridis , in Sanskrit tanduliya or vishnaga and in Tamil kuppukeerai or sinnakeerai.
These three are also called Malabar Spinach, Chinese Spinach & Tampala ( Generic Sri Lankan Name)respectively in the Western World.
Amaranths are also very nutritious, more about that in another post. Also Recipes for amaranth coming up in future posts. I cannot wait for my little, kutti plants to grow up - when I can finally try out the Amaranth recipes Indira has!