My Amaranth Dal is an easy weeknight recipe that's bursting with health and flavor. Even better, it's kid-friendly. Or rather, my kid-friendly.
You've probably eaten amaranth grain in cereals, but if you've never tried amaranth leaves before, you absolutely must. These are among the most widely cooked greens in Indian kitchens (called chaulai in north India and thotakura in the south) and they are, to understate it, magnificent. Here in the United States, I usually find them at the Asian store, and they are hard to miss with their pretty, pink-centered leaves and long stems.
Amaranth is an easy green to love, much like spinach: it cooks easily, its flavor is subtle yet addictive, and it makes dishes like this dal taste absolutely divine. Like fellow greens, it is loaded with vitamins A and C and calcium and what's more, it has a good dollop of protein. A superstar all round.
So go on, what's stopping you? Get those leaves and, if you absolutely can't, try this dal with spinach. It goes gorgeously with some brown rice, but it's also perfect to dip a chapati or paratha into.
And when you're done making and eating it, come back here and tell me if you absolutely, maddeningly, truly, madly, deeply didn't love it. I'll eat my kadai.
- ¾ cup moong dal mung dal
- 1 bunch amaranth leaves (small leaves are okay, tough stems trimmed , then washed thoroughly in a bath of water and picked over for grass and other aliens.)
- 2 heaping tablespoon chopped garlic (I know that sounds like a lot, but trust me, you'll be singing for joy when the dish is ready)
- 1 large tomato (finely diced)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or chilli powder or cayenne. Use more or less per taste)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon amchur (mango powder, found in Indian stores. I sometimes use chaat masala if I don't have amchur on hand)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Salt to taste
- Chop the amaranth leaves finely and place in a large pot or in a pressure cooker along with the mung dal and turmeric. Add enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until tender, adding more water if needed. Or if using pressure cooker, pressure-cook for the recommended amount of time for mung dal.
- Heat the oil. When it shimmers, add the cumin seeds, stir for a few seconds, then add the garlic.
- Saute for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes cook down until they are pulpy.
- Add the cumin and coriander powders, aamchur, and red pepper flakes or chilli powder.
- Stir everything well and let it all cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the dal along with the amaranth leaves. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Add water if the dal is too thick. It really depends on your taste-- I like my dal slightly runny.
- Let the dal simmer for about 5 minutes, then turn off heat and serve hot with rice or rotis.