[caption id="attachment_4483" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Thotakoora"][/caption]
Thotakura in Telugu or Kuppacheera in Malayalam is scientifically known as the Amaranthus viridis (green Amaranthus). This is a green vegetable that is traditionally eaten as vegetable in South India.
As per the traditional Ayurvedic medicine the Amaranthus viridus is used as a medicinal herb under the Sanskrit name Tanduliya. This is a vigorous annual herb and is found in summer. The stems are generally rounded, may have some ridges, and glabrous (without hairs) and leaves are mid to light green and deeply veined and up to 15cm long. Leaves have a long leaf stalk and have a broad base tapering to a pointed tip.
Mostly the inflorescence (group of flowers/fruit) is a dense spike, often with many branches. Flowers are small and green (sometimes with a reddish tinge). Flowers are generally radiating around the stem. Fruit capsules are wrinkled, indehiscent (not opening to release seed when ripe), small and brown. The fruit contains smooth and glossy seeds.
Amaranthus collectively known as amaranth is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs consisting approx of about 60 species where Amaranthus viridis is a cosmopolitan species in the botanical family Amaranthaceae and is commonly known as Slender Amaranth or Green Amaranth. Amaranth species are cultivated and consumed as a leaf vegetable in many parts of the world. There are 4 species of Amaranthus cultivated as vegetables in eastern Asia. They are: Amaranthus cruentus, Amaranthus blitum, Amaranthus dubius, and Amaranthus tricolor
In Andhra Pradesh, this leaf is known as the Thotakura and traditionally prepared with dal and is commonly known as Thotakura pappu. In Maharashtra, it is called the "Shravani Maath" that grows in the month of Shravan and is available in both red and white colors. Khada saga (in Oriya) is used to prepare 'Saga Bhaja', in which the leaf is fried with chillies and onions. Hulee, playa or Majjigay hulee are various curries that are prepared with these greens in Karnataka. In Tamilnadu, it is called and is regularly consumed as a favorite dish, where the greens are steamed, mashed, with light seasoning of salt, red chillis and cumin. It is called keerai masial. Root of mature amaranth is an excellent vegetable. It is white in color and is cooked with tomatoes or tamarind gravy. It has a milky taste and is alkaline.
The green Amaranth is a very popular dish in Greece and is called the vlita or vleeta. It's boiled and served like a salad with olive oil and lemon along with fried fish. Greeks stop harvesting the (usually wild-grown) plant when it starts to bloom at the end of August. In Sri Lanka, it is called "Koora Thampala" and is cooked and eaten with rice. Fiji Indians call it choraiya bhaji. These greens are traditional food plant in Africa and have the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.
The green Amaranth leaves and stems are usually used as stir fry vegetable or in soups in countries like China and Vietnam. Amaranth greens are believed to help enhance eyesight. There are two species popular as edible vegetable in Vietnam: amaranthus tricolor and amaranthus viridis.
Amaranth grain is a crop of moderate importance in the Himalaya. Amaranth greens are also called as Chinese spinach, are a common leaf vegetable throughout the tropics and in many warm temperate regions. It is very popular in India. They are a very good source of vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin, and folate, and dietary minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Because of its valuable nutrition, many farmers grow amaranth today.
The leaves are diuretic and purgative, and are used in poultices (fresh or as dried powder) to treat inflammations, boils and abscesses, gonorrhoea, orchitis and haemorrhoids. The leaves are believed to have febrifugal properties. Ash of Amaranthus viridis plants is rich in soda and is occasionally used to make soap.