You’re probably seeing it pop up with increasing frequency, touted as the newest superfood, but Amaranth has been around for thousands of years - eight thousand, to be precise. Technically a seed but often mistaken for a grain, the earliest recordings of amaranth come from central Mexico, where it was a staple food of the Aztecs.
Further East, the pseudocereal we call rajgira has sprouted in South Asia for equally long and is hugely beneficial to us for a number of reasons. India has the highest diversity of amaranth world over, and it’s part of a staple diet both down south in the Nilgiris and in the foothills of the Himalayas, where much of the region’s non-irrigated land is dedicated to its growth. As a hardy crop that grows across seasons and terrains, its ability to withstand harsh conditions sees farming communities through dry spells and extreme temperatures.
Our amaranth is locally sourced from the outskirts of Maharashtra. The farmers speak of it as an age old grain that they cultivate to feed themselves; the durability of the seed makes it the ideal crop to grow in between cycles of more water-intensive grains like rice and sugarcane. It sprouts happily on minimal soil, where water supplies can be erratic; it’s also a superb source of protein for those that don’t eat meat, a great advantage in a country with as high a vegetarian population as ours.
So it’s fairly obvious that we’re big fans of amaranth here at Gouri’s - you’ll find the seed in most of our bars and cereal mixes, with good reason. It’s gluten free, an excellent source of protein, iron and other minerals, and has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol.
If you’re looking to up your amaranth intake at home, try simmering it like porridge and eat it topped with fruits, nuts or seeds; though keep in mind to serve it immediately, because the tiny seed has a tendency to congeal if left alone too long. Better yet, try roasting or popping it for a bit of crunch and nutty, malty sweetness, and add it to granola, salads, or even as a crisp coating to meats. Fun fact: if your soup’s a bit watery, add in some amaranth to act as a protein-packed thickener!
Of course, if you’re kitchen-averse or feeling a bit lazy, just pick up a box of Gouri’s cereal instead.