My Cousin, friend, guide, philosopher @vitalstatistix tells me this ancient supercrop which we call "Deathless" (Amaranth) also Lal Math / Tandula-ja/ Lal Chauli / Ramdana / Rajgira (Leaf) ...has a fascinating history ..... 1
@vitalstatistix goes on to add... Here's something I wrote on this miracle non-cereal grain
What happens when xenophobic bugs bite fitness food fanatics? .... 2
The bugs die of course of excess xenophobia, even as the fitness freaks try to switch from `imported or processed' food and crops to `native or natural' varieties. Sometimes the inquiry into food origins can prove out to be illuminating. ............ 3
Consider the non-cereal Rajgira: it looks like poppy seeds (khus-khus) and is often used as substitute for cereals like wheat and rice during religious fasting days in Western India. .............4
Superficially, Rajgira, which is venerated for its ritual purity, seems as Indian as Indian can be. But few people know of its exotic origins and fewer still know of its enormous nutritive significance--- ..........5
it is a rich in lysine, the one essential amino acid that is hard to find in vegetable protein sources. (Which why bakeries around the world are compelled to sell `lysine-fortified' bread: your daily protein intake would be inadequate without this essential amino acid). ........6
What is more astonishing, when you combine Rajgira with another grain like, say, corn, you end up with a amino acid balance which is richer than even meat and milk. It makes enormous nutritional sense therefore to use this super non-cereal on lean-mean fasting days. .........7
Eating Rajgira and corn fritters or walloping a moong and rice khichdi garnished and sprinkled with puffed and roasted Rajgira can give you a light yet complete meal to build up your muscles. .............8
Rajgira is also known as grain amaranth (yes, there is a leaf amaranth too: locals call the tasty leafy vegetable `chawli' or `daughter of rice' (Tandulja in Sanskrit) again because of its nutritional excellence). .............9
But the eye-popping fact of the matter is that the grain which puffs and pops so easily on a warmed up tava (that's one sure-fire way of sorting it out when it's used to adulterate the far more expensive khus-khus) is an alien product! ..............10
Rajgira is a gift of the Aztec nation to the world, with a most chequered and sometimes bloody history. Spanish conquistadors of the South America tried to kill the grain by banning its cultivation with a death penalty. ............ 11
Hernan Cortes supposedly mistakenly equated it with Anti-Christ because the Aztecs consumed the puffed and candied amaranth as a satanic parody or inversion of the Christian ritual of Eucharist made with bread and wine! ....... 12
But the natives just refused to give up on grain amaranth which happens to be one of the most efficient photosynthetic `green machines' on the planet almost as easy to grow as pigweed. .......... 13
Meanwhile the Spaniards themselves were gradually captivated: they prized the plant as an ornamental---for its showy green, gold, and red russet foliage---and took it around the world. Nobody knows how and when it landed in India, much less about its journey to the Himalayas...14
The hardy farmers here at once took the grain (it occupies a niche quite similar to the chilly Andean heights) and being grateful to its vast benefits christened it Ramdana (God's Grain) as also Rajgira (Royal Grain). ............... 15
The rest is culinary history. But Western science remained clueless about it all: it was only in 1956 that an Australian food scientist stumbled upon Amaranth's secret.......... 16
Incidentally, the English name `Amaranth' itself comes not from Amerindian but from Indian Sanskrit for `Deathless'. Nobody knows how a South American grain got that moniker, probably because it refused to roll over and die in obscurity. ......... 17
Spare a thought for its pluck the next time you bite into a Rajgira chikki, it's so good for your protein balance!

........Fin!!! Phew!!!

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