The soft and moist amaranth almond fudge, naturally protein packed, sweetened with jaggery (refined sugar free) and scented with cardamoms. Locally known as rajgira / ramdana (God’s grain) ki barfi, these nutritional fudge are excellent to taste and can be part of your feasty festival platter like for Raksha bandhan (a unique festival that celebrates eternal bonding between brothers and sisters) or Diwali.
Amaranth is pseudo cereal (that is they are non-grasses) and hence very popular in Indian community during fasting period. Fasting is a way to reconnect yourself with your inner self, through meditation, by silencing your mind and senses and also by restrained from eating anything at all (that is to conserve your vital energy that dissipates easily through consumption and digestion). But over the years it get constrained within the boundaries of numerous religious rituals and true meaning of fasting is lost somewhere. As a result of that we are now blessed (?) with fasting diet or rather say “feasty fasting platter”.
As true cereals are complex carb with low nutritional profile as compared to pseudo cereals like amaranth and quinoa, hence these are preferred over the whole grains like wheat and rice. And to ensure that during fasting the body gets enough nutrition, we have even devised a way to assure this, that is by formulating a religious law that “ cereals are not allowed or banned during fasting”.
Leaving behind all these complexities of religious and cultural aspects, let’s move forward with this super food – amaranth which is considered native to Andean region. In ancient times it was also known as Inca wheat. But the seeds of this super food get dispersed, say some 500 years ago or so, by various ways through out the world and now in Asia, amaranth is cultivated in many regions, through out the year. In India alone we are now blessed with four or five indigenous variety of this plant, and it grows everywhere here.
And that should mean that amaranth flour or seed should be cheaper, should be easily available in our local kirana (grocery)stores. But here the story is entirely different. In Indian cities, these are exclusively sold in health stores, labeled as health foods or super foods, and priced so high that is beyond the reaches of middle class Indians. While these beautiful grains were growing in our own backyards since ages, and we were blissfully unaware of this, it took just few years of marketing campaigners under western influence to convince us that this is one super food worth spending your fortune. So much so that, while these obscene marketing practices has convinced the city folks to buy that “uber cool super food “ from the health stores, it has handed the junk food 2 minute noodle in the hands of the hill people who grows amaranth in their backyard.
Read this eye-opening article at DowntoEarth.
We would love to discuss further the realities of ugly food politics, but that would require a different platform and a different approach for any concrete results.
How to make amaranth flour- Making amaranth flour at home is easy, you will need your coffee grinder or mixer to do that job. Before plunging into action, just remember one thing to pop up the amaranth seeds before grinding. If you skip this step and started grinding the seeds directly from the packet, you will left with handful of tiny stubborn grains that refuse to become powder. In that case, you have to sieve (use your finest sieve) the flour and grains multiple time to get the desired result. None the less, few leftover seeds makes the fudge a bit crunchier to taste. It entirely depends upon your taste profile how would you like your fudge to be.
Secondly, if you are using store bought amaranth flour, and want to have that crunchier texture in your fudge, then add 2-3 tablespoon of popped up amaranth seeds.
How to pop up the amaranth seeds – just add two-three tablespoon amaranth seeds on a heated tawa/ griddle, and watch them popping up like poppy seeds.
- Amaranth seeds : 1 cup grind finely into powder
- Chickpea flour : ½ cup
- Jaggery powder : ¾ cup
- Ghee : ½ cup +
- Almond coarsely powder : ½ cup
- Cardamom powder : ½ tsp
- Amaranth seeds popped up ( optional) : 2-3 tbsp
- Roast the amaranth flour till deep brown. Keep aside.
- Roast the chickpea flour till they get slightly brownish hue. Keep aside.
- Roast the almonds and grind them coarsely.
- In a deep bottom pan, melt the jaggery in ¼ cup hot water.
- As the syrup begins to form, keep separating the scum that floats on top. That is the impurities in jaggery.
- Once the jaggery syrup is ready, add the amaranth flour, chickpea flour, cardamom powder and crushed almond.
- Mix them well. Do this in low heat.
- Add the ghee in stages, that will help you measure the exact amount of ghee required.
- Keep stirring in low heat till everything starts forming into a solid lump or mass.
- Keep a greased plate ready before hand.
- If you keep this mixture on heat for couple of minute more than it requires, moisture will evaporate from it and it will look like a dry mixture powder.
- If that happens, sprinkle little hot water over it.
- Immediately pour the mixture on greased plate, flatten and shape it with the help of spatula.
- Do not pat it down too thick or too thin.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- This will keep fresh at room tempertaure (not too hot or humid) for three days or more.
- When in doubt, refrigerate them in tight container. To serve straight from fridge or warm for 10 sec in microwave.
Happy Raksha Bandhan to all,