Reasons to include the winter grain, rajgira in your diet

by Sanjeev Kapoor

When the Space Shuttle Atlantis made its maiden voyage out of Earth’s atmosphere on October 3, 1985, NASA chefs prepared amaranth cookies for the astronauts to carry during the mission. And what is amaranth? The humble rajgira, the grain that’s been a part of Indian cuisine for centuries, while the west is quite recently waking up to its benefits!

Known by many names, rajgira, ramdana, amaranth and chaulai, this royal grain is also titled as ‘god’s own grain!’ Whether you are on a gluten-free diet, preparing for fasts or simply looking for an exciting ingredient to pep up your winter meals – don’t look beyond rajgira. Not just the seeds, even the amaranth leaves have gained so much fame and has emerged as a ‘trending superfood’ all over the world. We can’t help but tell you more about this wonderful grain and how you should make it a part of your winter diet, without fail!

Starting with the health reasons

  • Gluten free: Amaranth is a natural gluten free grain and is great for those who are  lactose intolerant.  In comparison to other gluten free grains, rajgira contains a high amount of proteins, fibre, magnesium, iron and amino acids. It is also the only grain that contains Vitamin C. It is said to provide resistance against diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke too.
  • Protein power house: One cup of raw amaranth contains 28.1 grams of proteins. In comparison, 1 cup of raw white rice contains 13.1 grams of proteins. So, it’s not really a difficult choice to make if you’re working out and looking for high protein food.
  • Contains lysine: Amaranth is a great source of lysine, an important amino acid with protein content comparable to that of milk. It also contains primary proteins called albumin and globulins, which, in comparison with the prolamins present in wheat, are more soluble and digestible, in turn making it light on the stomach.
  • Fast to feast: Amaranth is one ingredient that is used in every fasting meal, probably because of the fact that it isn’t a cereal but functions like one – it is  easy to digest,  hence making it the perfect fast food.
  • Fibre-rich: Apart from being the powerhouse of important vitamins and minerals, rajgira is also loaded with fibre. It prevents constipation, bloating and also gets rid of the unnecessary fat in the system, which in turn ensures smoother digestion.

How can you make the most of it?

  1. Rajgira is a great fasting ingredient and you can make tons of delish,, fast-approved recipes with it. One can prepare garmagaram rotis or puris with its flour or cook the grains to make sweet kheer, sheera or porridge. The grains can be roasted to make yummilicious laddoos and chikkis.
  2. Amaranth leaves contain a high amount of beta carotene, causing the leaves to be in beautiful hues of red, green and purple. You can use them in salads, stir-fries and side dishes or as a natural food colour to pep up your plate and your palate.
  3. Ramdana can be simmered like other grains to make a good porridge. It can also be popped in a skillet like popcorn, which gives it a nutty flavour and crunchy texture. Pop the grains in small quantities and store in jars for a crunchy healthy snack to much on.
  4. One can definitely count on rajgira to satiate their sweet tooth cravings. Apart from desi sweets, you can make puddings, cakes and cookies with it too. While baking a cake, make sure to use half of rajgira flour as of the total flour required in the recipe. Being extremely dense, amaranth is too heavy to be used by itself. It's best used with other grains when you want to bake a light and fluffy cake.

From our khazana, to your kitchen!

Rajgira Kadhi: The definition of comfort food in winters is kadhi-chawal. Move over the regular besan ki kadhi and try this with rajgira instead. It will keep you warm on the inside and soothe your taste buds.

https://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Recipe/Rajgira-ki-Kadhi---SK-Khazana.html

Rajgira Puri Aloo Sabzi Canapes: Presenting a fancier way to serve the popular vrat combo, aloo puri. Treat your guests to something healthier, tastier and extremely tempting this festive season!

https://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Recipe/Rajgira-Puri-Aloo-Sabzi-Canapes.html

Amaranth Greens on Bhakri: Not just the flour, here’s something enticing to make with amaranth greens as well. Amaranth micro greens cooked with onion, garlic,  green chillies and served over tiny and crispy bhakris. Time to enjoy.

https://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Recipe/Amaranth-Greens-on-Bhakri---SK-Khazana.html

Winter Salad with Amaranth: Well, winter just got better. Here’s a vibrant and power-packed salad prepared with fresh vegetables and puffed amaranth to add to your daily menus. Not just a good dose of health but full of flavour too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Lyr5wcl2k

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.