Cooking Amaranth, The Ancient Grain With Many Culinary Uses
Image Credit: Amaranth seeds, Depositphotos

In recent years, there has been an increased awareness about cooking with healthy grains that have been there since time immemorial. Amaranth is an ancient grain that has a texture and appearance quite similar to that of quinoa. The tiny, tan-hued seed can be prepared in a way comparable to rice and oats when boiled and consumed in the same form. Although amaranth is botanically classified as a seed rather than a grain, it is more accurately described as a "pseudocereal." One can cook it as a whole seed or grind it into flour-like other cereal grains and pseudocereals.

For culinary purposes

Amaranth, like other cereal grains such as rice and oats, is prepared by cooking it in a slow simmering liquid, and it can be used in either sweet or savoury dishes. Its seed is much smaller than other types of grains typically found, and its size is comparable to that of a poppy seed at most. Amaranth flour is gluten-free and thus a favoured choice among gluten-free bakers.  In addition, amaranth seed can be dried and processed into flour, which can then be used in cooking and baking, particularly in gluten-free recipes.

Taste profile

The flavour of amaranth can be described as nutty, herbaceous, and mildly peppery. It resembles quinoa in that it has a crisp consistency all its own. The nutty flavour of amaranth is heightened when it is toasted or "popped," and the texture becomes slightly crispy.

Amaranth seeds, Image Source: DepositPhotos

Cooking with Amarnath seeds

Cooking amaranth seeds is quite similar to preparing rice. The process involves adding the seeds to boiling water and continuing to cook the until all of the liquid is absorbed. It takes 1 cup of amaranth and 1 1/2 cups of water to make a pilaf, but 2 1/2 cups of water to make a bowl of amaranth cereal. Amaranth can also be popped like popcorn as an additional method of preparation. When you put one tablespoon of raw amaranth seeds in a hot, dry skillet, the amaranth seeds will start to pop in just a few seconds. It is essential to remember that amaranth seeds are relatively small, and despite the popped amaranth will more than double in volume, the popped kernels will still be quite diminutive. The toasted seeds lend a distinct texture to baked items and granola when included in the recipe.

Using Amarnath as a type of flour

 It works wonderfully as a thickening in soups and sauces, primarily when used with almond flour, with which it blends pretty well. In gluten-free baking, amaranth flour is a typical substitute for wheat flour. Because of its high density, the recipe should call for no more than one-fourth of the entire weight of flour called for in the dish; otherwise, the baked items will be weighty.