Amaranth is called Rajgira in Marathi – my mother tongue. Rajgira laddos and barfi are common in Indian homes. These light sweet laddos are never prepared at home but almost always store-bought. I used to wonder why. When I saw some Rajgira seeds in the grocery store, I decided to buy them on the whim. The plan was to roast them, mix them with some jaggery- nutmeg mix, grated ricotta or khoya and roll them into laddos.
But roasting these seeds is a pain in the a$$. Remember when you pop corn, there are almost some kernels that are left behind un-popped and some that get burnt. Its much of the same except that the poppy-seed size of the amaranth seeds make it harder to weed out the burnt and un popped kernels. I could see the creamy popped puffs layer over the brown ones but couldn’t really separate them easily.
The roasted burnt seeds were delicious and crunchy although the dark brown color was off-putting. So the ladoo plan was out. I almost decided to throw the entire batch out when I realized that the crunchy seeds would be perfect in two places: as an oatmeal topping and as a stuffing in dates.
Amaranth is rich in protein and is naturally cooling. So it’s a perfect topping for breakfast cereal to enhance the protein factor. And on dates that are rich in iron. Iron, Protein, Complex carbs, natural sugar all in a single snack. Jackpot!
I de-seeded the fresh dates I still had on hand from when I made the date truffles. Lo and behold, within minutes I had a crunchy snack that was perfect for late afternoon slumps. A little sweet, a little crunch and sugar – what else can a girl want 🙂
Make more than you anticipate as these are bound to fly fast.
Amaranth Stuffed Dates
- 1 cup Amaranth seeds
- 1/2 cup jaggery chopped into smaller pieces or replace with brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese or khoya
- 10 – 15 Dates de-seeded
1. Dry roast Amaranth seeds on a very hot skillet one teaspoon at a time for best results. Do cover the skillet with a lid so that puffed seeds don’t fly all over your cooking range. If you don’t have the patience ( like me), roast in larger batches, you will have more browned seeds than pale white puffed ones. Set aside once done.
It tastes crunchy and delicious nevertheless.
2. In the same skillet, heat jaggery with water till the jaggery melts. Add the puffed seeds and ricotta cheese. Cover and let cook for a couple of minutes.Let cool.
3. Slit the dates to de seed them and stuff with the crunchy mix.
4. Store the amaranth seeds mix in an airtight container. Enjoy as is or over cereal. Store the dates in a separate airtight container ( if you can spare any).
Today, at work, Shipra, told me to try making truffles with fresh dates. They are easy to make and kids eat them thinking they are chocolate. They are healthy, easy to make and all natural.
Only problem – I have never bought dates before. Call me crazy but I think they look like cockroaches! And I am scared of cockroaches. I may put on a brave front and be all cool and grown up about it if you are not family. But when no one is looking I scream, jump on the nearest couch or chair or even table and scream some more. They go about minding their own business and finally someone in the family turns up and takes care of the cockroach.
Eew, food and pests in same sentence don’t exactly sound appetizing. I hope I have not thrown you off already, bear with me…its gets better. I promise.
On the way home, we picked up some dates. Tunisian ones to be precise. Varun helped me pit them at home. Combined with cocoa powder, they tasted just like chocolate. This is a recipe where quality ingredients shine as there is nothing else to this than cocoa and dates. Roll the date-chocolate paste around nuts ( roasted almond, raisins or even pistachios) or filling ( caramel, coffee or custard) for a hidden surprise. I didn’t do any of that and they were still a hit.
Varun had a couple after dinner. And smiled and announced “chocolate”. Victory! I will have to ration them else he will eat them all at once!
Date Truffles Recipe
- 1 cup Arabic dates pitted
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon butter or oil in a small bowl
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder or coconut flakes for coating (optional)
1. Whirl the dates and cocoa powder till they are coarsely mixed in a blender.
2. Dump the mix into a large plate. Oil your palms and form truffle balls.
3. Coat the truffles in cocoa powder or in coconut flakes.
Store in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. Enjoy!