Cheera Thoran (Amaranth Leaves Stir Fry)
I first saw Amaranth leaves years ago when I moved to Bangalore, those lovely red leaves (there are green as well) being sold by the vendor in the vegetable market pulled me towards them. Called Cheera in Malyalam, Chauli in Hindi, Thotakura in Telegu, Dantina Soppu in Kannada, Amaranth is very popular in the South and though my mum never cooked with it I believe they are used a lot in Gujurathi and Marathi cuisine as well.
I have a patch of Red and Green Amaranth growing in my kitchen garden right now and like some of the green leafy plants, these are so giving. I harvest both varieties on a weekly basis by chopping the leaves on top and by next week it is ready to harvest again.
Like most green (or red) leafy vegetables, Amaranth leaves are almost like a super food. They are packed with vitamin K, folate, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. They are also a terrific source of minerals like manganese, iron, copper, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. They are also great for digestion, promoting good cholesterol and they are super delicious. Do I still need to convince you more to eat them
And I also find Amaranth leaves so versatile, from the humble kerala style thoran to be thrown in an omelette or chopped up before steaming your dhokla and idly or put them in a pie and a vegetable bake, cook them along with a dal or use in a salad since to me these leaves taste best when eaten either raw or lightly cooked. I even saw a raita version somewhere and considering it is so hot these days I am thinking that might a brilliant dish to make this week.
I made this thoran last week and we all loved it including the child. The thoran also marks an important stage in my life. I literally cooked with coconut oil for the first time ever. Start of this year when someone asked me what is one ingredient you want to experiment with this year, without a hesitation I said "Coconut Oil" because as much as I was reading up about the goodness of coconut oil I couldn't get myself to cook with it. But people told me thoran is the best dish to try cooking if you want to try using Coconut Oil and I could see what a difference it made to this dish. Post that I have used Coconut Oil in many more dishes as well and though there is a taste that one is aware of while eating it is far less sharper than I thought it would be.
Cheera Thoran (Amaranth Leaves Stir Fry with Coconut)
- Heat coconut oil a clay pot or a heavy bottom pan and when medium hot, add mustard seeds and once they start spluttering add the urad dal and chillies. Saute for 1 minute till the dal starts to brown.
- Add chopped garlic and sautee for another one minute. Add sliced onions or shallots along with curry leaves and sautee further till they onions turn translucent. Add salt and turmeric powder and stir to mix.
- Add the washed and chopped amaranth leaves, mix well and cook for 3-5 minutes. Do not overcook the greens. Add grated coconut and swtich off the heat. Let it stand for 5 minutes and serve with hot rice, dal and curd for a mindblowing meal