Come Shravan, the auspicious month of fasting among the Hindus, and packets of amaranth or rajgira laddoos, can be seen populating the shop fronts. Tiny, like quinoa, they are packed with nutrition (about 100 grams of uncooked rajgira has 14 grams of protein) and are easy to eat. It is no wonder then that this super grain is a staple in most households and flies off shop shelves during the fasting season. “Rajgira is considered a hero ingredient amongst vrat foods. It provides a slow-sustained release of energy and takes long to get digested, making you feel full for long,” says Raksha Lulla, an expert on clinical and sport nutrition from Locavore Consulting in Mumbai. Being rich in potassium and magnesium, it trumps other fasting foods like sabudana or sago.
Traditionally, this superfood has been used in Indian kitchens to make khichdi, halwa and parathas. However, now, due to increased awareness about its health benefits, rajgira is being used by home chefs and recipe curators to make innovative dishes. For instance, in Season 3 of The Big Daddy Chef on his YouTube channel, celebrity chef Ajay Chopra gives a new twist to vrat food by whipping up the French favourite, crepe, using amaranth flour, milk and baking powder. Instead of using egg, he uses yoghurt to make it fast-compliant. He adds a fun element by stuffing the crepe with date halwa and drizzling it with caramel sauce.
That’s not all. Ravneet Bhalla, a knowledge management professional and home chef, who curates recipes themed around clean eating, prepares air-fried amaranth nachos, which adhere to all the fasting restrictions. He combines the freshness of coriander with the crunch of flaxseeds. The dough, prepared using coriander and green chilli paste, is cooked on a low flame until it becomes thick. Jaggery, flaxseeds and salt are then added to this. Once this mix cools down, two to three cups of amaranth flour are folded in along with sesame seeds. The dough is mixed well and rolled into thin sheets. This is then cut into neat triangles or squares and put in an air-fryer. These no-oil nachos make for the perfect tea time snack.
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Another digital wellness content creator, Amrita Kaur, recommends amaranth granola for her fasting series on Instagram — UpvaslikeaBawse. She prepares it using an assortment of dry fruits like almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and toasting them in ghee. To this, two cups of puffed amaranth is added and sprinkled with half a teaspoon of ginger, cardamom and cinnamon powder. To make it sweet and savoury, two tablespoons of jaggery powder and a pinch of rock salt are stirred in. This piquant snack is perfect when the hunger strikes. She recommends making a big jar of this mixture to get your protein fix.
For those with a sweet tooth, rajgira pancakes make for an ideal breakfast option. Bijoya Mukherji, a vocal artist, shares the recipes of glazed pancakes on her Instagram page — bijoya_vocals. She uses rajgira flour, almond milk, half a grated apple, honey, and blueberries for the batter. Semolina is also added to help bind the mixture. The batter is whipped into round pancakes and cooked in a pan and then fried in oil. Rajgira flour adds body to the dish, making it the perfect meal to break a day of fasting. However, if you prefer something savoury, perhaps for lunch, replace the apple with raw grated potato and green chillies. Add some peanut powder and coriander to elevate the taste profile. Serve it with a bowl of curd.
How about some chaat while you fast? If you, like me, are a street-food fiend, here’s an easy way to whip up a delicious rajgira katori chaat. To make the katoris, knead a dough with rajgira flour, butter, red chilli powder and salt. Roll the dough into small round katoris and prick them with a fork. Fry them until crisp and golden brown. Allow them to cool. For the filling, add mashed or fried potato and top it with curd, dates, green coriander and chilli chutney. Garnish the chaat with fresh pomegranate and sprinkle a pinch of cumin powder. Not only is the chaat healthy but also helps break the monotony of a typical vrat food.
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