Amaranth is now also cultivated in Nepal’s Jumla and Humla districts, where the arid mountains have a similar soil and climate to the Andes. Iron-rich amaranth leaves (latta ko sag) are eaten as a vegetable, and larger-scale amaranth cultivation in Doti and Achham districts cater to a rising demand in India.
“Many mountain crops like amaranth had been neglected but these are climate smart superfoods and that is where the future is,” explained Rita Gurung of LI-BIRD, the Pokhara-based agro-biodiversity research organisation.
She says the crops need commercial-scale production and an campaign to promote their nutritional value by recipe generation so that Nepalis will make them a regular part of their diet.
Just like the Andes, the Himalaya has its own superfoods like chino (Proso millet) and kaguno (Foxtail millet) which have similar nutritional value to quinoa, but very few know of their existence.
“We have so many highly nutritional foods, but we have abandoned them for processed and packaged foodstuff and vitamin capsules,” laments public health expert Aruna Uprety.
Exploring Nepal’s culinary diversity, Kedar Sharma and Kiran Sharma
Tharu escargots, Sewa Bhattarai