Amaranth leaves are known as Thandu Keerai or Mulaikeerai in Tamil and the seeds are known as Thinai. It is known as Rajgira in Hindi. Even though the health benefits of the leaves as well as the grains are attaining popularity now, one can safely say that the mention of this wonderful vegetable and its seeds are known for more than 8000 years even in Maya civilization as well as the early Tamil literatures. A Thinai mavu (a preparation made with the powder of the seeds) is considered as a source of great health to our ancestors.
Amaranth is a good source of fiber, protein, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, along with several other important micronutrients. The leaves as well as the seeds are totally gluten free which is an added health benefit to those concerned about the gluten content in what they eat.
Indian Cottage Cheese – (Paneer) – 150 Gms
Amaranth Leaves – 1 big bunch
Oil – 2 ½ tbsp
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Large Onion – 1 (finely chopped)
Green Chillies – 2 (finely chopped)
Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tsp
Medium sized Green Tomato – 2
Coriander Seed Powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1 pinch
Garam Masala – ½ tsp
Red Chilli Powder – ½ tsp
Kasoori Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves) – 1 tbsp
Salt – to suit one’s taste
Pluck the leaves of the Amaranth and discard the stems of the Amaranth. Wash the leaves thoroughly in water. Strain the water out. Cook the leaves and some green chillies soft with very little water. Allow the leaves to cool. Make a fine paste.
Cut the Tomatoes and make a puree out of it.
Cut the Paneer into cubes.
Heat the Oil in a pan. Add Cumin Seeds. Stir fry for a few seconds. Add Onion. Stir fry with a pinch of Salt for a minute. Add the Green Chillies and cook till the Onion turns translucent.
Add Ginger Garlic paste. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the Tomato Puree. Continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add Coriander Seed Powder, Turmeric Powder and Salt. Add Garam Masala. Continue cooking till the raw smell of the masala goes away.
Now add the Amaranth paste. (You can rinse the blender jar in which you made the paste and add that water also). You can adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding little more water, if required.
You can adjust the spiciness by adding Red Chilli Powder, if required.
Mix well. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Crush the Kasoori Methi with hands and add to the above. Stir well and cook for another minute covered with a lid.
Add Paneer Cubes. Mix gently. Cover and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes in low flame. The healthy Amaranth Paneer Gravy is ready. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Use Green Tomatoes for this gravy. It gives a nice green color to the gravy. Since Green Tomato was not available when I cooked this gravy, I used the regular ripe Tomatoes. It does not make a difference to the taste.