Friday, February 04, 2011

Not Quite Curd Rice

As you know, losing weight is one of my obsessions. And in pursuit of that, going around organic food stores in search of interesting things to eat and replace routine things with, my pastime.

That's how I came across amaranth seed (or rajgeera as it's known in Hindi) a year or two ago. The leaf (thotakura, in Telugu) is popular, I regularly use it with dal or by itself to make a stir-fry. It looked like tiny globules of dry yeast, stuffed into plastic packs with cooking instructions typed on white paper. I took a pack home, and quite liked it. I learnt this was the same grain that the rajgeera chikki (brittle) or laddu was made with. There's also popped amaranth sold in these organic stores - the suggested use is as breakfast cereal, but I'm coming around to realising microwaved idlis, eggs and fruit are my kind of breakfast. (I'm the kind who buys idli batter off a shelf but today, there were reports in the newspapers that 55 per cent of the readymade batter brands, including four well-known ones, were contaminated with fecal matter, so I won't be buying it for a while, I'm sure.)

Back to amaranth, though! The pack suggested it could be eaten with dal and curds/yoghurt, just like rice. I don't remember what I did with the majority of the pack, but I do remember how good the curds mixed with the cooked seed tasted, and that's what I made today, with my second pack of amaranth.

I have a small problem, though - this current pack has some mud/stones in it, and I don't quite know how to rinse this teensy-weensy grain efficiently - in a way that the mud/stones are weeded out, but it's not too bad. Maybe I just got a badly done batch - as long as I don't find out it's fecally contaminated, I'll be fine.

Quite the wonder food it seems to be, with no gluten, high levels of iron and amino acids not often found in grains:

"Amaranth seed is high in protein (15-18%) and contains respectable amounts of lysine and methionine, two essential amino acids that are not frequently found in grains. It is high in fiber and contains calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C.

The fiber content of amaranth is three times that of wheat and its iron content, five times more than wheat. It contains two times more calcium than milk. Using amaranth in combination with wheat, corn or brown rice results in a complete protein as high in food value as fish, red meat or poultry."
Read more here.

There's a lot of information about amaranth seed on the Internet, it sounds good and healthy though I have only done a little bit of reading about it, and I may eat it more often to give my meals more variety - and, of course, hopefully consume fewer calories or a better class of calories in the process. Here's a curd preparation with it - tastes like the traditional curd rice in my South Indian home, with the seed giving it the touch of the exotic!

Here are the seeds.

Close up, they look big, but they aren't.

This is a cup of amaranth seed after being cooked in 1.5 cups of water brought to the boil 
and simmered until absorbed.

Up close, doesn't look very appetising, does it?

But persevere.

Take about two ladles of curds/plain yoghurt and add it to a cup of cooked amaranth seed. Add some salt to taste.

Temper a spoon of hot oil with a little bit of mustard seed, cumin, red and green chilli, chopped and broken up, and some curry leaves.

Garnish with coriander.


Somewhere along the way, I forgot I knew that amaranth was also a colour. Did you know?

I'm sending this off to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Janet of Taste Space, administered by Haalo and created by Kalyn.


  1. I think i also fall under 'losing weigh is an obsession for me' category... :)
    I have been experimenting with quinoa lately - this sounds like a good alternative.

  2. It's been such a long time! Is this available in most stores? I want to see if it's available in Bangalore.

  3. The upclose picture look like small fish eggs, I have never heard or seen these seeds.
    I have given up my obsession of loosing weight, i loose then i gain it all back.
    I know i will panich when it gets near summer when I cant wear none of my summer skirts .

  4. I heard a lot of amaranth seeds Sra and this looks yummy - not quite curd rice as the title says. Even I am experimenting with different grains these days, will try to find this in my nearby Indian store.


  5. I have to remember to buy this when I come to India .

  6. I have been looking at Amaranth seeds and haven't bought them yet.

    The picture you call unappetizing is the one that is making me think of making some payasam with it. Looks a lot like sago pearls.

    The curd amaranth sure looks good too.

  7. Awesome...Always wanted to try Amaranth seeds...

  8. A year back, there was report of mixing wood chips in tea powder (major brand), now idli batter... Once cooked the grain looks like rava, I haven't tried this grain. Curd rice version looks good!

  9. Now this is what I call a perfect innovation and would love to make this recipe a staple in my house. My mom used to include these grains in her cooking, but I never bothered to venture into what she did with them.
    Sra, I always keep a box full of these seeds in my balcony to feed the birds! And thought this was the best I could do with them. Not anymore :)

  10. I havenever seen a recipe with amarnath seeds. this is the first time. it looks like sooji halwa in one of the pics:)

  11. This is truely tempting, luv the idea

  12. I didn't know it was a colour....and I read that report too, and that stopped me from going out and getting a pack of batter yesterday.

  13. Very interesting; I have never cooked with this.

  14. wow.. contaminated batter sounds so scary!! never had these seeds before..maybe can try with quinoa.. the other good-for-you grain instead.thair sadasm is an excellent idea.u could even make spicy kichdi with green gram.

  15. wow..another truly wonderful seed....whats its name in english?...i just today posted 'quinoa in tempered yogurt' like curd rice but with quinoa....
    Do we get this seed in regular grocery stores?
    thotakoora I know...but it seeds, i am not sure i have seen them....OH In summer we had lot of thotakura plants growing in our yard...if i would have known i would have saved the that i remember, I do have seeds for growning plants but very few....
    check out my blog when u get a chance....

  16. That is surely a very new seed for me. I did not know that the seeds of these leaves that we usually use are also edible. I love the idea of using multiple kind of seeds.

  17. Thanks for the introduction to a new ingredient.

    Up close it looks like tiny pearls.

    And I wonder how well it would work in as kheer dish :)

  18. I have amaranth seed but only used it twice. This looks like a wonderful way to use the ancient grain. Thank you for sharing it with WHB this week. :)

  19. Have to agree with Finla. I thought they looked like caviar, just white! :)
    Never seen the seeds before though it looks appetizing with curds/ yogurt.
    I have a packet of amaranth flour, and have to find something to do wih that! :D

  20. This looks interesting, must have a textural flavour like sabudana?
    Should work in sweet-payasam dishes too.
    Look forward to your Pithore Ki Kadhi recipe too.

  21. I have never had amaranth seeds, but I have cooked the young leaves. The plant is pretty when it blooms. The seeds remind me a bit of quinoa. I like the idea of mixing it with curds/yogurt.

  22. Have I said before how much diverse stuff you manage to cook while I sit and read about it on your blog. I have a packet of amarnath seeds lying around in my pantry for over a year. I just cooked them but my package direction called for 1:3 ration of seeds to rice. Waiting for it to cool and make curd rice. Did you add any salt, sugar to yours?

  23. Oh forgot to mention, I love rajgira laddoos. Grew up eating them. :)

  24. Yummy!! Love what you have done with rajgira!!

  25. oh no! i saw this in delhi and didnt buy it cuz i didn't know how to cook it, or felt that they may be uninteresting! how i wish you had posted this last week :(

  26. Sra,
    We do eat green Amaranth leaves in chorchori(vegetable medley) etc but I guess never seen these seeds..Are they easily available in grocery store back in India or it's just occasionally..I do think Like Finla they look like fish eggs/roe/caviar to me :-)..hugs and smiles

  27. Wow....impressive that you made it into curd rice - well, curd amaranth. Unfortunately, the fiber content which makes it so good for you means I wont be able to digest it :(

  28. Isn't experimenting with new foods fun? I'm so glad you shared this delicious recipe for amaranth. It's been on my to-make list for the longest time.

  29. After cooked, they look like tiny pearls :-)Never got to try amaranth seeds, though I am seeing them in many places these days

  30. The 'unappetising' snap, actually looks appetising...almost like tiny sago!

    Btw SRA - Thanks for picking my suggestion as a winner in the Pritya Book Give Away Contest! :-)

  31. first time here lovely site
    following you

  32. Thanks folks! Have become v lazy about answering and acknowledging comments. Nandini, if it's available here, it's available in Bangalore I'm sure!
    Dibs, I had no idea it was you! :)

  33. Came here after a long time and as i love your writing i am reading many of your posts today...

    One it rajgeera? To my knowledge rajgeera is kuttu in Hindi and buckwheat in English . Amaranth is called ramdaana in hindi and the laddu is called ramdana ka laddu , quite popular during navaratri fasting and easily available in Delhi n north and central India.

    The popped ramdana is eaten with curds or milk during fasting but i had never heard of the grains being boiled and this experiment of your's is awesome . I recently tried boiling ragi grains like this as somebody told me they do ....the grains were sandy and i didn't like it ...with amaranth i think it must have been great.

    Do you know they can be popped at a thick base kadai on low heat put a handful of amaranth grains and make a potli of a cotton napkin ...roll the potli over the grains and they will pop when pressed against the kadai .

    Hope you don't mind my loooong comment...:)

  34. Hi Sangeeta, thank you.

    It is rajgeera/ramdana - I've mentioned it as rajgeera. As far as I know, kuttu is buckwheat. And this amaranth was a bit sandy too, I found bits of sand/whatever twice or thrice, but because the seeds are so small, I didn't quite know how to identify them. We get popped amaranth too, in special stores.

  35. this is great sra!! i am so going to try this... youre a genius!

  36. good way to add protein.. yet to try it but as soon as i get them planning to include them in my diet. :)

  37. how in the past they managed to eat these grains given the issues regarding stones, sticks, sand, insects often found in grains...


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