Saturday, March 4, 2017

Red Greens? Red Amaranth On The Menu Tonight!

A lot of people dislike eating greens. And, conversely, greens are the main vegetables used by lots of people. But what about greens that are red?
Health Benefits of Amaranth Leaves
I loved my mom's dal saag and I tend to make it often. If I find red amaranth, I grab it. A touch of colour does wonders to food.

Laal Saag Dal


3 cups red amaranth, washed, chopped finely (See Notes)
1 cup arhar dal (I prefer to use split and peeled mung and you can even use red masur)
2 onions, medium sized, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tomato, large, finely chopped or a small lime sized ball of tamarind ­
see Notes
6 cloves finely chopped (I don't!) garlic or less or none
A small piece chopped or julienned or ground peeled ginger
Salt (start with a level teaspoon)
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Half a teaspoon fenugreek seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
2 dried red chillies
Half a teaspoon haldi
Half a teaspoon red chili powder


1. Wash and pressure cook the dal with one to one and a half cups of water till soft. See Notes.
My MIL would partially cook the dal for, say, a whistle or two and then add some salt, haldi and chili powder.
2. Wash the greens well. I soak them in water and drain thrice over. And you should too if you've not bought pre­cleaned and ladidah ones.
3. Pluck the leaves off the stalk and chop the greens finely. Some folks use the stalks but it might make the dish too fibrous. If you do decide to do so, use tender stalks and use only if your greens are super fresh.
4. Soak the tamarind now, if that's what you want to use instead of tomatoes.

Use a lime sized ball of tamarind, more or less depending on the sourness of the tamarind. Cover it with some hot or warm water and squeeze out the pulp. Use the water and discard the pulp.
5. Peel and slice the onions. 
6. Peel and chop or grind the ginger and garlic. 
7. Finely chop the tomato. 
8. Check the dal. If it's well cooked, add the chopped greens. 
9. Heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the mustard seeds and lower the fire. At this point you have to move fast from one step to the other lest these spices burn. 
10. When they start to crackle add the red chillies, broken into two or three pieces. 
11. Add a pinch of fenugreek seeds and a pinch of asafetida. 
12. Do not let anything burn! Add the onions and fry well. It's up to you to brown or merely glaze them. 
13. Add the chopped tomato and cook well, stirring frequently. 
14. Add the haldi and chilli powders. Stir well. 
15. Toss this onto the dal and greens. 
16. Add salt to taste. 
17. Serve with hot steamed rice and a dash of ghee. Any South Indian pickle, some poppadoms and some dahi would make this a yummy South Indian lunch or dinner.
18. Suggested side dishes: any dry vegetable curry can do fine but, perhaps, some dry root vegetable preparation would work best.

Notes And Some Interesting Information about Amaranth

Note 1: Dal can be cooked without a pressure cooker but that might take longer.

I loved my mom's dal saag and I tend to make it often. If I find red amaranth, I grab it. A touch of colour does wonders to food. 
Note 2: Here's a video with a recipe for the green variety of Amaranth but it shows you how to chop the greens.

Note 3: I prefer to use tomatoes  in this recipe but some prefer tamarind.  One can even use both. 

Red Amaranth 

Amaranth leaves have many health benefits.
The Hopi Indians reportedly used the flowers as dye. At present, there is a synthetic dye called "amaranth", also named Red No. 2 in the US and E123 in Europe.
It's also grown as a decorative plant.
If it comes with roots when you buy it, you can dunk the stalks into soil and they tend to grow. Thus, you can re-grow Amaranth. Buy one, get one free!

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