Tiny seed. Big flavor. That’s amaranth.
Originally a staple of the Aztec diet, amaranth soon made its way to Asia where its taste, texture and nutrition earned it the title of “king seed.” The leaves, flowers and seeds of all three are edible.
When you add amaranth in amounts up to 25% of total flour used in gluten-free recipes you improve the nutritional value, the taste and texture of gluten free baked goods. Additionally, amaranth is an exceptional thickener for roux, white sauces, soups and stews.
Amaranth or rajgira means “immortal” or “everlasting” in Greek because it contains more than three times the average amount of calcium and is also high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and it is the only grain which contains Vitamin C. Rajgira also has far more lysine, an essential amino acid, which the body does not manufacture, compared to other grains. Lysine is needed to metabolise fatty acids, absorb calcium, and is essential for strong, thick hair.
Amaranth is a less popular cousin of quinoa—another previously obscure, gluten-free super-grain favored by the ancient Incas. These crops have similar nutritional profiles, but amaranth is less likely to be found in your grocery store.
Amaranth is high in protein and important minerals, such as calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. But its most desirable nutritional feature is amino acids. Amaranth nearly matches the optimal amino acid ratios set by the World Health Organization.
Amaranth is slightly lower in carbohydrate content compared to other gluten-free grains. 1 cup of raw amaranth has 129 grams of carbohydrates, white rice 148 grams, brown rice and sorghum 143 grams of carbohydrates. Oats contain 103 grams of carbohydrates, making them the lowest carb gluten-free grain.
Amaranth is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (as are most whole grains) and it contains vitamin E in similar amounts to olive oil.
- ½ cup - rajgira seeds
- 1 cup - freshly ground coconut
- 1½ cup - brown sugar or grated jaggery
- ¼th tsp - fresh ground cardamom
- 3-4 tbsp - fresh ghee
- 2 tsp - cashews and almonds.
- 1-2 tsp - ice cold milk
- Roast rajgira seeds and coconut separately on medium heat for 10 minutes.
- In mixing bowl, combine roasted rajgira seeds, coconut, brown sugar, cardamom.
- Fry cashews in a little ghee till golden brown. Keep aside. If you want to make nut free, skip cashews.
- Slowly add melted ghee and mix well. Make sure ghee is not hot. If it is hot, brown sugar melts.
- Add enough ghee till you can form ball with your hand. If a firm ball is not formed add more ghee. Add till you can form firm ball. If ball is not intact, its ok. Adding cold milk will help.
- Add fried cashews to above mixture after cooled down.
- Now time to make laddus. Just before making balls, add ice cold milk and mix well. Try to make a ball. If it doesn't, add few drops at a time. Balls look fragile at this time. But after 15 mins or so after milk dries up and ghee solidifies, laddus will be intact. If you are not confident, add little by little honey and mix well. To make it vegan, replace milk with nut milk or soy milk.
- This procedure sounds complicated. But it works perfectly. Compared to white sugar, stickiness in brown sugar or jaggery helps in forming laddus with less ghee.
- Eat while fresh. They stay fresh for 2 weeks. Adding less milk keeps them fresh for many days.
- Refrigerate if you are storing for few days.