choraiya bhaji fiji style

Choraiya Bhaji – Stir Fried Amaranth

Servings

4 servings

Prep time

15 minutes

Cooking time

10 minutes

Vegan

Suitable for Vegans & Vegetarians

Choraiya bhaji, also known as amaranth leaves, is a very nutritious green leafy vegetable. Full of Vitamin C and Iron, it is not just delicious but super healthy. It has also been recently classed as a super food and its seeds are being used to make flour too. In India, it is known as chorai and by the time it reached Fiji, the name became choraiya. We have grown our own choraiya in our small backyard garden and it grows so fast that we will never run short. We often cut the stems and leave the roots in and the leaves spring back up in no time. If you grow your choraiya next to some marigold or herbs, it will also keep away any hungry pests. This system along with using only compost or natural manure, keeps all the food we grow organic. It is also very rewarding because this is food that is grown so much in Fiji and most Asian and African countries as well as Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago (our Indian cousins across the Carribean – where it is known as chorai) – but not easily available in some overseas countries. 

Eating choraiya with roti and paired with dhal, it is vegetarian and vegan heaven. And it is so easy and quick to make because it is quite simply a stir fried meal. You can add another layer of yumminess by cooking it with eggplants, known as ghotal choraiya bhaji. I will post that recipe on the website soon. But if you’d like to try it, follow the same steps and add and cook the eggplants before adding the choraiya.

There are a few things to remember when making choraiya bhaji, the main one being washing the leaves thoroughly. Because it is a leafy vegetable, it tends to attract insects and also gets soil on the bottom leaves when it rains as it is so close to the ground. If you buy the leaves and they are not from an organic source, washing the leaves properly can be vital to your health. Before cooking the choraiya, soak it in water and 1 tbsp salt for at least 15 minutes to remove all the impurities. Wash thoroughly to remove the excess salt and it is ready to be eaten.

Also note that adding salt after the choraiya has reduced and wilted will ensure you do not add too much salt to it. It reduces to almost ¼ of its volume when cooked so it is safer to leave the salting to last. The garlic and chillies are best chopped and not crushed, and the onions must be diced into smaller pieces. There is no need to add curry leaves as it conflicts with the taste of the leaves. You can slice the choraiya leaves to a smaller size (2cm thickness) and add some of the soft stalks too. This helps to add a bit of texture and is easier to cook and eat too. Do not cover while cooking or the colour of the leaves will change to a dull green.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch choraiya bhaji (amaranth leaves) , 20 – 30 plants

  • ½ onion, diced

  • ½ tsp jeera (cumin seeds)

  • ½ tsp sarso (mustard seeds)

  • 3 cloves garlic – finely chopped

  • Chillies to taste – chopped finely

  • Salt – to taste

  • Oil – to taste

Directions

  • Wash and soak the choraiya in water and salt for 15 minutes. Wash off the excess salt by rinsing the leaves, then cut the leaves into 2 cm thickness (if leaves are bigger). Add in the soft choraiya stalks, cut into 1 cm pieces.
  • Heat oil in a pan then add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and onion. Cook till slightly brown. Then add garlic and chillies and cook till golden
  • Place the choraiya leaves into the pan gradually, allowing the leaves to wilt and making space for more. Fold in the leaves and continue mixing till all is combined
  • Once the leaves have reduced in size, add salt and combine. Stir fry the leaves till cooked, this may take only 10 minutes (depending on the type of stove being used)
  • Serve immediately with roti or rice and dhal.

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