Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Carrot Amaranth Kheer

Every year in school, for Republic Day and Independence Day, we used to gather in our schools to sing the national anthem and to unfurl the national flag. After watching parades and band performances, we used to get the customary 'Rajgeera wadi', a rice crispy like concoction made of popped amaranth seeds and probably sugar syrup. Little did I know then that the tiny amaranth grains would turn out to be supergrain powerhouses!!

I had some toasted amaranth at hand and I decided to use it up along with some shredded carrots and evaporated milk to make this sweet kheer..Why did I have toasted amaranth, you ask ? I had actually intended to pop the amaranth to make granola, but the amaranth was probably not fresh enough, because it didn't pop as I expected. The moisture content of the seeds must have been very less. I read somewhere that the moisture present in the seeds is what causes them to pop under heat..if the seeds have dried out, or have been sitting in your pantry for too long, then they wont pop!The carrot amaranth kheer turned out surprisingly well, considering that I didn't follow any particular recipe.

Carrots have been long acknowledged as a wonderful vegetable, chock full of vitamins and fiber and beta carotene. Its a naturally far free food and easily adaptable to savory as well as sweet dishes.
Amaranth has been slowly emerging as a super grain and a super food.
  • It contains all 8 essential amino acids which make it a complete protein. 
  • It has 9 grams of protein per cup (cooked) and has a decent percentage of fiber as well as iron. 
  • It is a very versatile grain, it cooks up easily and can be used in a variety of grain dishes, breads, salads. 
  • It is easily digested and makes a very good baby food. 
  • It is also gluten free.

If you haven't tried it before, definitely get some from your nearest health food store. If your grocery store has a bulk food section, then you can try some from there..Always a good alternative to getting a big pack and then not knowing how to use it all up!

Feb042013 309

1  C shredded carrots
½ C amaranth (washed and drained)
½ C evaporated milk
½ C low fat milk
¼ C grated jaggery
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 Tbsp chopped nuts (cashews , almonds)

1. In a medium sized pan, boil two cups of water with a pinch of salt. When water comes to a boil, add the amaranth and let simmer until the grain is cooked. This should take about 20 minutes. If required, add more water. Amaranth, when cooked, gets slightly soft , but is still slightly crunchy.
2. Meanwhile, heat up a stair fry pan and saute the carrot shreds until they are no longer raw. You may add a few drops of your favorite oil, but that is optional.
3. Once the grain is cooked, reserve a quarter cup of water in the pan and drain the remaining (if any). Add the evaporated milk, low fat milk and the carrots.
4. Add the grated jaggery, which is nothing but an unprocessed sweetener that is widely used in Indian sweets, and the sugar.
5. Simmer on low flame for about 20 minutes more.
6. Garnish with roasted dry fruits and serve either hot or cold.

  • The kheer was not overly sweet, the carrots and the cooked grain making it quite creamy. The nutty taste of the amaranth was pleasantly delicious. I preferred eating it cold. Its better to serve it after a few hours, because the flavors seemed to have melded better the next day. If you want a different texture, you could blend up the cooked carrots before simmering along with the grain. This will give a smooth, orange colored kheer.
  • Jaggery is an unrefined cane sugar product that's mostly used in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is healthier than refined sugar. If you cannot get jaggery, you can always substitute raw sugar, turbinado sugar or brown sugar.
  • If the kheer seems to be getting too thick as it cooks, add more milk.
  • Adjust the sweetener to your taste.

Ideally, this post should have been up at the beginning of the year..what could be a better way to herald in a new year, new beginnings and new experiences than a delicious creamy kheer ? But life interrupted (well...I have a lot of other excuses too..) but better late than never. After all, where does it say that we have to limit new adventures to the beginning of the year, right ?

I do hope you do try this recipe and commence on a new culinary adventure of your own :-)