Amaranth or pigweed are a variety of plants in the genus Amaranthus. Although several species are often considered weeds, people around the world use amaranth in cooking as a leaf vegetable or cereal grain. It is easily harvested, produces many seeds, and is tolerant of arid environments.
The leaves may go by the names bayam (Indonesia/Malaysia), kulitis (Philippines), callaloo (Caribbean), mchicha (Swahili), efo tete (Yoruba), arowo jeja (lit. "we have money left over for fish"), African spinach, rau dền (Vietnam), or enga lenga/biteku teku (Congo).
Amaranth seeds are starchy and treated as a culinary grain. They are cooked much like other cereals by simmering in water. From there, it can be incorporated into other preparations like soups and salads. It can also be toasted in a dry skillet like popcorn—when mixed with honey or molasses, this makes a treat called alegría (literally "joy" in Spanish).
In the Caribbean, amaranth leaves are sometimes used in pepperpot soup. It is a common vegetable in West Africa, frequently eaten in soups or along with cooked starches. In Andhra Pradesh, India, the leaf is added to a popular dal called thotakura pappu. In China, the leaves and stems are used as a stir-fry vegetable and called yin choi (苋菜; pinyin: xiàncài). In Vietnam, it is used to make soup.
Amaranth seeds contain exceptionally complete protein when compared to other cereal grains. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.
- "Learn All About Amaranth, a Gluten-Free Grain". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2023-12-01.
- Gisslen, Wayne (2015-03-12). Essentials of Professional Cooking, 2nd Edition. Wiley Global Education. ISBN 978-1-119-03072-0.
- Figoni, Paula I. (2010-11-09). How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-39267-6.