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Amaranth, Inca Wheat or Quichuicha (kiwicha) is a large group of plants from Latin America, South East Asia and West Africa. Amaranth is gluten free and high in protein. Amaranth provides edible green leaves and also is popular as a grain - it's not strictly a cereal but has all the cultural values of a cereal. Amaranth grows quickly, developing large and high protein grains in seed heads that look like sorghum. Unlike some plants it includes lysine and has nutritionals close to perfection for humans.

Amaranth grain comprises small round seeds, with a light golden brown colour - they look like white poppy seeds in terms of shape, size and colour. Amaranth has a decent warming, but mild taste, with a sticky and spongy feel.

Amaranth can be ground to use in bread, biscuits and cakes - Mexican tortillas. Amaranth can be popped into white kernels like popcorn.

Used as a vegetable, amaranth greens are delicious stir-fried, usually basella or Chinese Spinach. Calalou or callaloo is another species of amaranth, used a vegetable.


To cook amaranth:

Cover 200g of amaranth with 500ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Stir and remove from the heat. Leave to stand for 15 minutes with the lid on.


Amaranth lasts for a long time. Store amaranth somewhere dry, dark and cool, and free from potential insect contamination.

Further Reading

  • Christian, G. (2005) Real Flavours: the handbook of gourmet & deli ingredients, Grub Street. ISBN 1904943209.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.