The cuisine of Kerala is distinct in each subregions. The South, North and middle regions each have their distinct flavours and are contrasting too. Sadya, the traditional feast of Kerala, has many variations in both ends of the state. Aviyal is one such main dish, which is the queen of Sadya. For me this is a new try. In our region, an amaranth aviyal is not so popular. Since red amaranth is a favorite of my hubby and since its healthy we started preparing this. Aviyal is a favorite dish of our family.
Amaranth is a nutritious plant with many health benefits. Not only are its leaves delectable, its seeds are also edible and nutritious as well.This is the main reason why I opt for this leafy veg. This dish is a vegan’s delight too. Once savored by the ancient Aztecs, Mayans and Incas in their staple diet, this gorgeous greens is witnessing a food renaissance recently. Packed with antioxidants, protein, vitamins, calcium, carbohydrates, iron and minerals, health benefits of amaranth leaves are numerous. There are over 60 species with amaranth flower shades ranging from green to red and violet to gold. The short-lived amaranth plant can grow up to 7 feet tall bearing broad and alternate leaves and blooms in summer to fall. Depending on the species, amaranth leaves can be round or lance shaped measuring between 5 to 15 cm. Red amaranth often bear variegated or slightly reddish leaves whereas other species yield leaves in light or dark green shade. Health benefits of amaranth leaves may also differ from one species to another.
- Provides energy: Highly packed with carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin K, folate, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, amaranth leaves boost energy in the body.
- Prevents electrolyte imbalance: Amaranth leaves are terrific source of manganese, iron, copper, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus necessary for maintaining proper mineral balance in the body.
- Excellent gluten-free diet: Vegetarians with gluten-intolerance or those suffering from celiac diseases can meet daily recommended dose of protein from amaranth greens. Compared to other plant sources namely wheat, rye, rice and oats, Amaranth contains 30% more protein with complete set of amino acids.
- Improves digestion: High dietary fiber content (3 times that of wheat) in the greens improve digestive health and reduces constipation. It is easily digestible and good for both young ones and elders.
- Aids in weight management: Protein in the leaves help to reduce insulin levels in the blood and also release a hormone that lessen hunger pranks and prevent “binging catastrophe”.
- Reduces bad cholesterol: One of the key benefits of amaranth leaves is cholesterol-lowering ability. Being fibrous, this leafy vegetable is effective in reducing LDL levels in the blood and promotes weight loss. Presence of tocotrienols (a type of vitamin E) also aids in cholesterol-lowering activity.
- Good for anemic patients: Iron-rich (5 times that of wheat) red amaranth leaves promote coagulation and increase hemoglobin content and red blood cell counts.
- Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease: Amaranth leaves are an excellent dietary source of phytosterols that lowers blood pressure and prevents heart ailments including stroke.
- Fight-off cancer: Presence of lysine (an essential amino acid) along with vitamin E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium and vitamin C helps to fight against free radicals responsible for aging and formation of malignant cells.
- Ayurvedic treatments: Juice extracted from fresh amaranth leaves are prescribed for treating diarrhea, and hemorrhage conditions.
- Stop hair loss and graying: Besides regular consumption, applying juice from the leaves prevent brittle hair falling. This wonderful cosmetic benefit of amaranth leaves also retards the onset of premature graying.
- Prevents calcium-deficiency ailments: Calcium present in amaranth leaves reduce risk of osteoporosis and other calcium deficiencies because it has twice the calcium as milk. Indeed good news for lactose-intolerants!
- Improves eyesight: Vitamin C found in the leaves contribute to towards healthy vision.
Amaranth greens are stocked with high amounts of oxalic acid which inhibits absorption of calcium and zinc. It must be avoided by individuals suffering with rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or kidney diseases. Cooked amaranth shouldn’t be reheated as the nitrates present in the leaves get converted to nitrites. This is particularly harmful for young children.
Amaranth leaves taste almost similar to spinach. Tender leaves and stems are best for consumption. Asian amaranth recipes: This leafy vegetable is hugely popular in India and Sri Lanka and often served with rice. In southern parts of India, amaranth leaves is also boiled with pulses, mashed, stir-fried with light seasoning of red chilies and spices or cooked with tamarind gravy. Considering excellent health benefits of amaranth leaves, Chinese love young greens in stir-fries mixed with chicken or pork meats or Pinyin soup. Vietnamese use the leaves to make soup. Thais cook this leafy vegetable as spinach. African amaranth greens recipes: Nigerians consume amaranth leaves with starch dishes. In the Caribbean, the leaves are stewed with garlic, onions, and tomatoes, or made into pepperpot soup. Mediterranean amaranth leaves dishes: Greeks cook a healthy dish called vlita with boiled green leaves mixed with vinegar and olive oil. It is served as salad alongside fried fish. (http://www.innovateus.net/health/12-health-benefits-eating-amaranth-leaves)
Cleaning this leafy vegetable is the toughest part. It takes almost twenty minutes to clean up the silica from the roots and leaves. The usual dressing of coconut, cumin, shallots and chillies were given a make over. I wanted to infuse some flavour to the stem, so i sauteed the shallots and chillies and cooked the stem and mangoes in it. Made the dressing light with just coconut and cumin. This is a simple and easy dish to prepare and a very healthy one too. A special thanks to my dear friend and sissy Dr. Sreeja for sharing this recipe with me.
Clean, rinse and wash the amaranth thoroughly under cold running water.
Separate the stem and leaves. Cut the stem in one inch length. chop the leaves finely.
Heat a pan with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Add the sliced shallots and chilli. Saute till just soft.
Add the stem and fry for a minute. Add the raw mangoes and cook covered till half done.
Give a good stir, add turmeric and salt and stick back the lid and cook till done.
Add the chopped leaves and the ground coconut with cumin.Combine well and allow the heat to seep through the veggie. cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the curry leaves and a dash of coconut oil and stick back the lid for a minute.
Serve hot with rice.