What to do with amaranth?
My gluten-free amaranth chapatis fell apart easily when I tried to roll out the dough and ended up in small higgeldy piggeldy shapes – nothing like the traditional round roti you would expect.
But they were deliciously crispy with a nutty taste. Even more so with a light spread of ghee or coconut oil as soon as they came off the tawa (clay pan).
Yet it seems that amaranth has not received much attention in the food world, particularly compared to quinoa. I think that needs to change.
Let’s start with what it is. Amaranth looks like a grain but is actually the fruit of a plant and contains more protein (like lysine) than wheat flour, oats or rice.
In the western world, this pseudo-grain is easily accessible and affordable. In Kenya, many people might not know that Amaranth is locally grown, and is an amazing replacement for the highly processed wheat and corn products that we are addicted to.
Amaranth is also richer in iron, magnesium and calcium than most grains and is a great source of fiber.
Here’s to variety then, and some awesome recipes you can try with the grain or flour:
Pumpkin Pie Amaranth Porridge
The wondrous fall season is the best time to make anything from the squash family. You may discard all boxed breakfast cereals once you’ve tried this warming breakfast recipe with coconut milk and spices (see feature image for what this dish looks like).
Ramani’s gluten free chapatis
These may be time-consuming to make, but Ramani’s chapatis (with amaranth and brown rice flour) are worth it with your indian food or as a snack. My pile is usually devoured (by me) as soon as they are made.
Add more spices than the recipe calls for, and consider preparing them without oil on a tawa if you have one, or use a lightly oiled skillet.
Spiced chocolate amaranth pudding
Another warming, spiced up dish for the colourful season. For better digestion, soak the grains overnight and use healthier sweeteners like maple syrup or coconut palm sugar…you know the gist.
Feature photo: My new roots
Research sources: 3 gluten-free wheat substitutes
Amaranth: a solution to food insecurity in Kenya