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Growing a wondergrain – Amaranth

Amaranth has been cultivated in India for thousands of years and is a big part of Indian cuisine. It comes in various colours and sizes and has amazing benefits for the body. It’s been re-discovered or talked about again in the past couple of years and some people even go as far as to saying it is India’s answer to Quinoa, the superfood (grain) from South America! Well, answer to quinoa or not, it seems it has been around forever, cooked and grown in most homes in India. I read somewhere that Amaranth was also the staple food of the Aztecs and they believed that it had supernatural powers and used it in religious ceremvegetariaothonies. Fascinating!

Named after the Greek word “amarantos”, which means “one that does not wither,” colorful amaranth flower buds stay vibrant even after drying. Cultivated by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago, amaranth is still popular in many cultures, and becoming more so in recent years. It can be popped like corn, cooked similar to rice or pasta, or ground to flour.

Amaranth plants typically grows in height from anywhere from 3 to 10 feet, depending on it being either a grain or a vegetable variety as well it being either wild or cultivated. Did you know that it reseeds itself? What an easy to grow plant in your balcony garden, indeed! Once you have grown it, make sure to use in hundreds of dishes! Go the full hog!

In Hindi, Amaranth is known as ‘Ramdana‘, which means God’s own grain. It grows in abundance in the hills of North India as well as several areas in the South of the country. It forms a major part of the diet for people living in the hills. The vegetable variety of Amaranth is referred to as ‘Chaulai ka Saag‘, cooked just like spinach and packed with nutrition. It is often also made into ‘sattu’ or ‘laddos’, very popular in the North of India.

The amazing thing about amaranth is how it compares nutritionally to other grains: far more iron, calcium, protein, manganese, fiber, and other phytonutrients than wheat or rice. Amaranth is one of the most protein-rich plant-based food, rivaling that of animal-based foods like cheese.

Little seeds that can be roasted, cooked with jaggery, turned into flour or grown into vegetables…Choose from:

amaranth-ramdana

Amaranth or Ramdana – it tastes and looks the same via

Order your Amaranth seeds via

Order your Amaranth seeds via

amaranth-red-leaves

Nutritious red amaranth leaves for a delicious, healthy stir fry via

Green Amaranth or 'Cholai' in North India..get your seeds via

Green Amaranth or ‘Cholai’ in North India..get your seeds via

red-amaranth-leaves

Grow your own Red Amaranth Leaves- get the seeds from Greenmylife via

Tips for growing Amaranth in your balcony container:

  • The seeds are very fine and small and resemble mustard seeds and just a tiny quantity can yield a satisfying crop in your container
  • Scatter the seeds  in the container (like you would do for growing spinach) with the soil. Cover with a thin amount of soil. Ensure that the seed is covered with enough soil (typically, 1:3 ratio, implying three times more soil as compared to the size of the seed)
  • Take care not to sow too many seeds together to avoid a bunched up or a crowded crop. Pick baby or mature greens as needed.
Step 1 of growing Amaranth in your balcony via

Step 1 of growing Amaranth in your balcony via

If you are ready to grow your own Amaranth, order your seeds and have a good read of My Green Vault and get step by step instructions to get your very own home grown Amaranth. Here are some more links to help you with your kitchen garden…

organic-terrace-gardening-book

Looking for a bedtime read…look no further via

learning-about-kitchen-gardening

Want to learn about kitchen gardening…stop here, Green Essentials will teach you all via

Are you planning to order and plant the seeds? You will not be disappointed! I certainly am planning to. Amaranth is  very high in protein and also contains a couple of essential amino acids, making it a fantastic food. It is also packed with a lot of other vitamins and minerals. So, in summary, grow it and include it in your diet when you can….

Happy times in your terrace garden!

Shilpa xx

Cover Image: via