The red spinach is known as red amaranth, “தண்டு கீரை” (Thandu Keerai) in Tamil, bayam merah in Malay and Hóng xiàncài in Chinese.
The leaves of the red spinach are red, slightly broad and oval-shaped; tender yet robust, and offers a satisfying texture in dishes. The stems ranging from pink to deep red are succulent and add a subtle sweetness to the overall flavour profile. Red spinach has a slightly earthy and tangy taste, which becomes milder when cooked. When cooked, red spinach retains its vibrant color, making it visually appealing in various culinary preparations.
In Tamil cuisine, red spinach is often incorporated into stews, curries rg. Keerai Kootu, and stir-fries like Keerai Poriyal, adding both colour and flavour to the dish. Red spinach pairs well with a range of spices commonly found in Tamil cooking, enhancing the overall taste of the recipe. I often use red spinach in smoothies, salads and even soups. I have also pureed the steamed red spinach and combined it with Atta flour to make chapatis.
Red spinach is highly nutritious and offers a wide range of health benefits. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, calcium, and folate. The vibrant red stems of red spinach are indicative of its high content of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Red spinach is not only a flavourful addition to Tamil cuisine but also a symbol of health, vitality, and cultural heritage in Tamil cooking. Its versatility in various culinary preparations and its rich nutritional profile make it a valued ingredient in both traditional and modern Tamil dishes.
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