Weekend Herb Blogging #16 – Amaranth Leaves (Thota Kura-Pesarapappu)

“Amaranth, though relatively unknown today, was cultivated as a food crop in Mexico as early as 7000 years ago. Amaranth grain constituted a principal source of protein for the pre-Hispanic populations of Mesoamerica. Along with beans and corn, amaranth was a fundamental part of the indigenous Mexican diet.”

This was news to me. I thought Amaranth or Thota kura, as its called in our state of Andhra Pradesh, was native to Indian and China. I was wrong. (I must appreciate and thank Kalyn of Kalyns Kitchen for starting a wonderful theme.vIf not for her, I surely wouldnt know so many facts about different herbs and vegetables.

Amaranth has been used for centuries because of its nutritional qualities and today its value has been re-discovered by the health-conscious who have developed a liking to it because of its ability to provide high nutrition both as a vegetable and as a grain. I found some interesting facts on the history of Amaranth here.

Amaranth is herbaceous plant of the genus Amaranthus, is also known as Chinese spinach, choy, tamri bhaji, chauli, thota kura, mullukkirai, Jacob’s coat and Joseph’s coat. The edible tender leaves and stems, rich in vitamins A and C, protein,folic acid, calcium and iron, are considered as vegetable and are cooked like spinach. Iron levels in amaranth leaves are three times more than those of spinach and the leaves have a taste similar to spinach, but are much sweeter. These leaves are low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol and also a very good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. Amaranth is generally available as a red variety (such as red saag, red spinach or red leaf amaranth) or as green amaranth (such as green pointed leaf,tender leaf or green round leaf). The picture above reflects both the red and green amaranth variety. For more information (with pictures) on different varieties of Amaranth leaves follow this link.

Amaranth is considered to be one of the most nutritious plant in the world.Popped amaranth seeds provide a good source of protein which can satisfy a large portion of the recommended protein requirements for children and can also provide approximately 70% of necessary calories. A combination or rice and amaranth, in a 1:1 ratio, has been designated as an excellent way to achieve the protein allowance recommended by the World Health Organization.

Amaranth is a multi-purpose plant in India. The tender leaves and shoots of the amaranth plant are relished as a green vegetable and are excellent for stir-fries and soups. In some regions of the country,the grains are popped and mixed with milk and sugar to prepare kheer (sweet drink) and without milk to prepare halwa (sweet pudding). The roasted and partially popped grains are milled into flour and used to make rotis (flat Indian bread) or, fried in oil to make puris (puffed Indian bread) or crisp pakoras (fritters).

To prepare any recipe using amaranth, wash the greens thoroughly and slice the older woodier stems and use only the tender stems and leaves, which have a mild spinach flavor,for salads. Stems and leaves that may be more mature can be used in stir-fry dishes, soups and steamed dishes with noodles.

In Andhra ,Thota Kura is used to prepare dal dishes,stir-fries and soups. Today’s recipe is Thota Kura Peasarapappu which is a stir fry lentil dish cooked with amaranth leaves. Very nutritious, tasty and goes well with rice and rasam.


Weekend Herb Blogging #16 – Amaranth Leaves (Thota Kura-Pesarapappu)

  Prepare time:
 Serves: 2

 Main Ingredients:

  •  amaranth leaves


  •   2 cups chopped thota kura
  •   1 small cup pesara pappu(split yellow moong dal) washed and boiled in 1 cup of water till soft but not mushy.The dal must be intact.(When ever I boil the pesara pappu I use the left over water to prepare rasam)
  •   1 big onion finely chopped
  •   3 slit green chillis
  •   1 tsp chopped ginger
  •   ½ tsp mustard seeds
  •   ½ tsp cumin seeds
  •   4-5 garlic flakes crushed
  •   10 curry leaves
  •   2 dry de-seeded red chillis(tear them into 2-3 pieces)

Method for making Weekend Herb Blogging #16 – Amaranth Leaves (Thota Kura-Pesarapappu)

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a vessel.Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.Now add the cumin seeds,garlic flakes,red chillis,curry leaves and stir fry for 15-20 seconds.Dont burn it.
Add the chopped onions,green chillis and ginger and fry on medium heat till transparent.Now add the chopped amaranth leaves and mix well.
Add the cooked dal and mix well,cover and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat and its ready to be served with hot steamed rice and rasam.


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/8611628 Kalyn

    This is very interesting. I have heard of this as a grain, but didn’t realize that other parts of the plants are also used as food. It sounds very tasty the way you have prepared it. Healthy too!

  • http://mtastes.blogspot.com/ Lera

    Sailu,Thota Kura-Pesarapappu sounds good…and nutritious too…this is exactly how my mom makes too…

  • sailu

    Kalyn,thanks to you,I sure am learning a lot about different kinds of herbs and veggies..:)
    Yes,amaranth is a very healthy and nutritious plant.

    Lera,this stir fry leafy-dal dish is tasty, healthy and highly nutritious food.

  • CJ’s Food & Discovery

    Hi Sailu,

    I knew for sure that – Amaranth is very familiar and I just can’t tell you right now but we got those kind of vegetable in the Philippines – I will have to do a research…

    thanks for sharing Sailu!


  • Anu.

    Hello Sailu, First time to your blog and looks very interesting. I love totakoora and wanted to ask you where we can purchase them here in US. I have never seen them either in American or Indian Grocery stores.


  • Rorie

    The lentil stir-fry sounds just excellent!

  • http://www.thecookingadventuresofchefpaz.blogspot.com/ paz

    Very, very interesting. I love the name and history!


  • sailu

    Your welcome,Tin.

    Thanks for dropping by,Anu.I blog from India and am not really sure where in US you can find thotakura.I will make enquires and let you know.

    Its a very tasty stir fry dish,Rorie.

    Yes,Paz,I learnt so much about Amaranth these past few days..:)

  • http://injimanga.blogspot.com L.G

    Amaranth from mexico?I just cant blv that at all! People make kheer from the seeds? What a wide world this food blogging has opened to my eyes!. Thanks.

    It sure has opened my eyes too..:)

  • JK

    Amaranth strains in India and China are very ancient and unique. In the Himalayan region its a fasting food. Thankyou for your recipe. I am going to try it today. There is some additional information on the amaranth here. Thanks. FYI : http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11763&page=35

  • Prabhakar

    Hello Sailu, I am from california, lived in vizag for 20 years. very nice website with good mouth watering recipies. Thanks a lot I got helpful hints for making good food. Please email me if you have new recipies.


    Prabhakar, you can subscribe to my blog feed by leaving your email address in the side bar. You will receive the recipes via email as and when I update the blog.

  • Gayatri

    Hi Sailu,
    I always find myself coming back to your site frequently. I find lot of wonderful tips, recipes and nutritional information. I really apreciate your website and its insight into cooking.


  • esiaba razoa owendi

    good i have learnt so much about amaranth and hope to fully utilize the information practically

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