“Amaranth” is such a beautiful word. It just rolls off the tongue, don’t you agree? It sounds like the name of a princess from a fairy tale.
Well, whenever Princess Amaranth is feeling hungry and cranky and tossing her royal golden slippers at the heads of her royal palace servants, the royal palace cook whips up a pile of delicious Amaranth Leaves and Potato Fry and suddenly little miss Princess is too busy stuffing her royal face to throw footwear at anyone. Yep, it’s that good.
I’ve been curious about fresh amaranth for years. I try to incorporate amaranth seeds into my cooking (so far without too much success, but I’ll work up to it eventually), but the pictures I’ve seen of those gorgeous, unusually-shaped leaves, often shot through with veins of purple, have whet my appetite for cooking with the plant itself. When I spotted giant bunches of fresh amaranth at my local farmer’s market, I knew I had to grab my chance (even though my fridge was still stuffed with goodies from my box – I’m such a produce glutton!).
I came home and began scouring Food Blog Search for recipes. I had the most luck with some of the wonderful Indian food blogs – I guess amaranth leaves are a much more common ingredient in parts of India than they are here. I found recipes for various curries, and finally settled on a recipe for Amaranth Leaves and Potato Fry (aka Thotakura Bangaladumpa Vepudu). Of course I didn’t have a few of the ingredients, namely dalia/putnala pappu, split gram dal, and curry leaves, but at least I finally have asafoetida so I’m a little closer to being able to actually make authentic versions of all the tantalizing Indian recipes in the blogosphere. I didn’t have any coriander leaves, either, so I substituted coriander seeds, which is entirely different, I know, but I really love ’em.
I made a big batch of it, and served it with chili-glazed tofu and brown basmati coconut rice. It was all super delicious, but the amaranth and potato fry was the dish that just kept on giving. The next day, and the next, after the flavors had melded, I just couldn’t get enough of that bitter, tangy amaranth, those soft, flavorful seasoned potatoes, and the crunchy bursts of flavor from the crushed coriander seeds. An excellent foray into the world of fresh amaranth, I’d say! (Although as I mentioned in the comments of an earlier post, this dish is not something I’d serve to company – the bitter tang of amaranth is something I think people will either like or hate.)