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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Amaranth Greens Rutabaga Beets Chard Spicy Ethiopian-Spiced Curry

Amaranth Greens Rutabaga Beets Chard Spicy Ethiopian-Spiced Curry

A giant bunch of Amaranth greens hopped into my tote bag, all by itself, wanting to go home with me, imagining all the wonderful dishes it can become.

And so, couple of dollars gleefully jumped out of my pocket and nestled in the lady's palm at the farm stand while the amaranth leaves settled into my already brimming tote.

Amaranth Greens Rutabaga Beets Chard Spicy Ethiopian-Spiced Curry

One dish is not enough to relish, and showcase, this amazing amaranth greens. High in dietary fiber with chockful of goodness like vitamin B6, folate, iron, manganese, calcium, plus cholesterol-lowering tendency and antihyperglycemic activity, I only wish it was available in the supermarkets on a regular basis instead of just the local farmers markets on and off. Most Amaranthus species are annual weeds, short-lived, and not all species are cultivated for the greens, so, understandably, they are not available year-round here. Amaranth seeds are one of my favorites as well, to boost salads and make kedgeree/kichri/porridge.

Known as Thotta Keerai or Thandu Keerai in Tamil, I remember my mom buying bundles of greens from a vendor who also knew which greens can address the heating/cooling of the body as needed, based on Ayurvedic principles. The thick but tender stems of amaranth greens remind me of tender asparagus. This is quite a staple as far as greens go in south Indian cuisine.

Some rainbow chard were ready to be clipped and used from the home garden.

Amaranth Greens Rutabaga Beets Chard Spicy Ethiopian-Spiced Curry

I had some beets and rutabaga from the farmers market from last week. It seemed like a good combination for a spicy curry with a blend of South Indian and Ethiopian flavors. Ever since Ethiopian spice-mixes like Berbere, Mekelesha and Mitmita became readily available, much like the Indian spice-mixes such as Madras curry powder and Garam masala powder and Sambar powder, I have been adding them to my favorite Indian recipes. Fusion cuisine being my passion, finding equivalent substitutions from various cuisines to mix and match the flavors has been a wonderful obsession.

Nothing much to it, except for the curry paste which is non-traditional one I made up on a whim. and, managed to jot down the ingredients this time to share.

Amaranth Greens Rutabaga Beets Chard Spicy Ethiopian-Spiced Curry

For the spice paste:
1 Tbsp chana dal, lightly toasted
½ Tbsp urad dal, lightly toasted
3 to 4 dry red chilies
3 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes for the intense flavor(or, use tomato paste)
1 Tbsp tamarind paste (sold as Sour Soup base mix in Asian stores)
2 Tbsp coriander powder
1 Tbsp cumin powder
2 Tbsp Berbere powder (Ethiopian spice mix)
1 Tbsp Mekelesha powder (Ethiopian spice mix)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 cups chopped amaranth leaves
1 medium rutabaga diced
1 medium beetroot diced
8 or so rainbow chard, chopped
¼ cup diced onions
1 Tbsp peanut oil
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt to taste

  1. Spice paste: Combine the spice paste ingredients with a splash of water and grind to a fine paste in a blender or food processor, keep handy
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add the veggies, turmeric powder, a pinch of salt and sauté
  3. Add the spice paste and sauté some more
  4. When onions turn translucent, add the amaranth leaves, just enough water to cook the veggies, cover and simmer gently, adding a splash of water as needed till veggies are fully cooked but not mushy, and the gravy thickens to make the curry
  5. Serve warm with roti or naan or plain basmati rice

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