"rajgira atta," a flour used here in India especially
on Ekadasi [special fast days when grains are not eaten] the same
Bhakti Vikasa Swami, Vrindavana, India
Bhakti Vikasa Swami,
Thanks for your letter. No, Rajgira atta is not made from buckwheat,
but from the seeds of a plant called amaranth. The name amaranth
comes from the ancient Greek meaning "deathless". It was
said that this plant promoted a very long life. Note the sanskrit
similarity - amara - also meaning deathless.
There are many members of the amaranth family. Some are grown primarily
for their seeds, which are treated as a grain, others are decorative,
and some are considered weeds. All are edible.
The two main types grown as a leafy food crop are loosely termed
green amaranth and red amaranth.
I grow a lot of red amaranth in my garden (see illustration) and
it is a wonderful vegetable/herb with dark green leaves splotched
and deeply veined in red. It has a semi-sour taste and is cooked
in subjis (vegetable dishes) and dals. Incidentally it has much
more nutritional value than spinach.
Chinese people eat amaranth during summer, believing it to reduce
internal heat and dampness.
The plant is used in Asian cookery extensively, and when it goes
to seed, the tiny seeds (actually they look like seeds but botanically
they are the fruits) are dried and used as a pseudo-grain flour.
When strictly non-cereal items are required in India, this one fits
the bill nicely.
Incidentally, I eat puffed amaranth as a breakfast cereal on grain
fast days. Delicious with milk! Here in Australia it is available
in health food stores and major supermarkets. One can find it in
the breakfast cereal section.
Finally, some international names for Amaranth...
English: amaranthus, Chinese spinach, edible amaranth, wild
blite, careless weed
Chinese: hin tsoi, een choy, xian cai, yin choi
French: amaranthe, amarante
German: Amarant, Fuchsschwanz
Hindi: chaulai sag, ram dana, lal sag, rajgira, chuamarsa,
Indonesian: bayam, selasih, bayem, abang, senggang bener
Portuguese: amarantos, bredos, carurú
Spanish: amaranis, bledos, blancos
Thai: phak khom
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