Parippu Cheera Curry / Lentils with Greens (Amaranth Leaves)

2010
07.19

The earliest memory I have of these red and green Amaranth are from my Mom’s vegetable garden, where they grew like wild weeds. As a child I often squinted at them from a distance, pretending  they were rubies and emeralds strewn around my palace during my make believe games of an Empress and her empire. Every time my Mom went on a spree of de-weeding we had Amaranth for lunch and my empire turned poor over night :(.

Having come from the South of India where we ate some sort of greens every other day, the vegetable market in the US was a little disappointing to me initially. Other than spinach, a few other greens I found, I was not familiar with and had no clue how to cook them. The local Indian stores didn’t carry much either. They had the same spinach and sometimes the seasonal methi(fenugreek leaves) and the mustard leaves.  So when I discovered the Asian market that had ever so many varieties of greens all through the year, tons of them that I recognized and tons more that looked possible to cook with, I was Jubilant. And like I always do when I get excited I went overboard and bought so much of it that it took my flat mates and I several weeks before we could finish all that I’d purchased. Thank God for freezers, we didn’t have to trash any of it,  we chopped them and saved them in these cool life savers (literally huh??). For several weeks we looked green, talked green, yawned green, farted green and pooped green. You get the drift? But surprisingly we never tired of it.   After several weeks,  when we had managed to run through all that I’d bought, we went back and got more. Though obviously unlike the first over indulgent buy, I did hold myself back and bought just enough to last us a week. But the point is, in spite of the all those weeks of eating only greens we didn’t mind more. I guess that’s what is special about greens. They are so refreshingly tasty and healthy that your body just can’t seem to get enough of it!

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My local Chinese market carries Amaranth all year round. So these are my fall back greens when I can’t find anything else I like. They are easy to cook with and blend quietly into any dish like spinach does. I mostly cook them with Mung dal in the traditional mallu style but they taste great with eggs and also when simply sautéed with coconut in a thoran style.

Ingredients
2 cup chopped Amaranth
3/4  cup mung dal
1/2 cup grated coconut
4 finely sliced shallots
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/2 tsp of chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped red onions
1/4 tsp chili powder-1/4tsp
1/4tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 green chilies
2 dried red chilies
Salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp ghee
1 sprig of curry leaves

Directions

  • Grind coconut, half the shallots, green chilies, cumin and 2 curry leaves to a coarse paste and keep aside.
  • Pressure cook dal, greens, turmeric powder and chili powder in 2cups of water.
  • Heat coconut oil in a pan and add 1/2 of the mustard seeds.
  • When they pop add the dried red chilies, onions, garlic and sauté until onions are translucent.
  • Add the cooked dal and greens to this and mix in the ground coconut mixture.
  • Add water to get the desired consistency and add salt to taste.
  • Mix well and bring to boil.
  • Heat ghee in a seasoning pan, add the remaining mustard and when they pop, add in the remaining shallots and curry leaves.
  • Fry the shallots until they are deep brown.
  • Turn off the flame and pour the seasoning over the dal.
  • Stir in the seasoning and turn off the flame.
  • Serve with rice, pickles and papadam.
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