Mystery ingredient's mystery solved: Amaranth leaves sambhar!

I have this most weird habit of picking up a new vegetable or a new grain without any slightest idea of what I am going to do with it or how to use it. If I see something new, it peeks my interest and draws me like a magnet and the next thing I know its somehow sitting in my grocery cart! 

It was one level of craziness picking up things that are new but this time I crossed a line: I actually picked up something without even knowing its name. Okay, now I am not this crazy person who would feed anything to my family; I mean, the leaves were sitting next to the spinach, anything that sits next to spinach has to be eatable and tasty too, I bet!

So I picked up these most unique looking green leaves (size of small spinach leaves) with red veins running into them. I had no idea what they were, the store did not have a name-tag next to it. I called the store people and asked them what it was, they said they had no idea. I picked them up anyway, thinking I would google them.

I come home, try a lot of Google image search first (Green leaves with red veins), nothing that looks even remotely to what I have turns up. More Google search, nada. It gets to the point that I am thinking I would have to take a picture and send it to my mom in India for identification when I try the last search criteria "indian grocery green leaves red" and voila, there comes an entry from Mahanadi with a picture of the exact leaves that I have!! Score! So, today's mystery ingredient is amaranth leaves.

Not knowing how they taste, I made a quick hard-to-go-wrong sambhar (with store bought sambhar powder it's a jiffy -- sorry Sambhar police.. just didn't have the patience to start from scratch today, it happens, you know). The sambhar was yummy delicious with freshly made rice and a side of lemon pickle. 
So turns out my so-called weird habit of picking up mystery ingredients isn't too bad afterall!

3C loosely packed washed and dried amarnth leaves
3/4C toor daal
5C water
1/2C tiny shallot onions
1 tomato - chopped
1tsp sambhar powder
1.5tsp tamarind paste
1/4tsp turmeric powder
salt & sugar to taste

For tempering:
vegetable oil (may be 2Tbsp)
1/2tsp mustard seeds
1/2tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1 large chopped garlic clove

  1. In a large pot, add amarnath leaves, water, toor daal and salt. Cover and let cook until the daal turns mushy.
  2. Add onions, tomato, tamarind paste and sambhar powder to the daal. Cook covered for 10more minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil for tempering in a small pot. When hot, add mustard seeds. When they start popping add cumin seeds; followed by garlic and asafortida.
  4. Add the tarka to the toor daal. Mix well, adjust the seasonings and serve hot with rice!