Bathua is a fast growing plant that is biologically known as ‘Chenopodium album’. This crop is highly popular as a food crop in Northern India and ‘bathua’ is itself a Hindi name. In Britain it is known as ‘fat-hen’ and generally considered a weed. The shape of the leaves of this plant is roughly like a diamond and usually dark green in color. A waxy coating is appeared on the leaves that are unwetable. Bathua is sometimes used as a green vegetable in lieu of spinach. Many bathua recipes are popular such as bathue ka raita and bathue ke paranthe.
History of Bathua
It is believed that bathua was first cultivated in Europe in 1753 as described by Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern ecology. Though chenopodium album is the common name for all species, but European species are slightly different from eastern Asian Species. From these parts of the world, the species of this plant had been introduced to other regions such as Africa, Oceania and North America.
Culinary Uses of Bathua
Mainly the leaves of bathua are used in cooking; hence it is considered a leafy vegetable. Leaves are usually cooked before eating. Bathua recipes are typically prepared like spinach recipes. Bathua is a healthy stuffing for parathas and cutlets. It can also be mixed with curd to make raita. Curry recipes prepared with bathua are also quite popular in many cuisines. The leaves are often incorporated into salads and lentils to make delicious recipes. The leaves also go well with potato and other vegetables in a semi-dry dish.
Popular Bathua Recipes
• Cheel Bhaji – This dish is prepared with chopped bathua. The leaves are chopped and stir-fried in oil and spices to make a green leafy vegetable dish.
• Bathue ka raita – Green leaves are boiled and crushed before adding to the curd.
• Bathue ke paranthe – Bathua leaves are stuffed in the roti and fried with oil to make delicious stuffed paranthas.
Cuisines Commonly Making Bathua Recipes
Bathua is a very popular food crop in Northern India. It is used similarly like spinach and considered a very healthy food. Many Indian curry as well as dry dishes includes this leafy vegetable. Many other cuisines, such as Asian, African as well as European cuisines also make good use of this green vegetable in their recipes for curries, salads and cry vegetables. Bathua fritters are also commonly eaten in these cuisines.
Popular Methods of Making Bathua Recipes
• Boiled – Bathua leaves are usually boiled before adding to any recipe.
• Chopped – To make dry vegetables dishes, the green leaves are chopped.
Buying and Storing of Bathua
Bathua is widely available in winter season. It can be purchased from vegetables marts or from Indian vegetables vendors. Being a green leafy vegetable, it should be purchased with green, fresh looking leaves. The leaves should also be free from insects and molds. While storing it is better to wrap the leaves in a paper bag or foil. It can be stored easily in refrigerator. For more shelf life, it cab be boiled, minced and kept in freezer.
Nutritional Value of Bathua
Bathua is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin b-complex and vitamin c. Traces of iron, calcium and phosphorus are present in this leafy vegetable. It is also regarded a highly fibrous vegetable.
• Bathua is a good food for chicken and other poultry animals.
• It should be consumed in moderation due to excessive amount of oxalic acid.