Food

Winter green bathua is a nutrient powerhouse

Also known as Chakvat in Marathi, betho shaak in Bengali and paruppu-k-kirai in Tamil, bathua is used for weight loss, improving complexion and for glossy hair.

Admit it, the vegetables always taste better in winter. Crisp, fresh, seasonal, and colourful. Of the greens that appear for a short span during the cold months in the year, is the bathua. Leafy and low profile, lurking the background with spinach and saag hogging the limelight. Take to bathua especially if you are looking are working on a weight loss target, and looking at building a super complexion and glossy hair.

Nutrient profile: Bathua

Call it by any name: Lamb’s quarters or Chenopodium album; parupukkiral in Tamil; pappu kura in Telugu; or chakravarty in Kannada, the bathua is a big powerhouse of nutrients.

Says Dr Ekta Singhwal, dietitian, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals: “The leafy greens come packed with vitamins A, C, and B-complex, along with minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium. A small bowl of bathua is recommended in winter… It is a great way to include seasonal greens in your diet, and benefiting from its immunity builder properties.”

The fibre content in bathua leaves helps in weight loss. Dubbed as saatvic aahaar in Ayurveda, the green leaves have a high-water content and are low in calories. They keep you feeling full for longer, “bettering your digestive processes and easing out bowel movements, especially piles”, explains nutritionist Sayali Desai. “Most importantly, it is a carrier of magnesium, zinc, iron, amino acids, and helps in lowering cholesterol levels too. The iron content boosts the growth of follicular tissues, lending your hair better growth and shine.”

Bathua uses

Bathua comes from the Chenopodium family that finds a mention in Ayurveda as well as in texts like the Atharva Veda and Charak Samhita. Traditional medicine attributes many medicinal properties to bathua, including serving as a tonic for the heart and liver, and being a diuretic and laxative.

In an article titled ‘Chenopodium album Linn: review of nutritive value and biological properties’, published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology in July 2015, researchers explained the importance of reintroducing traditional food species into our diets. With respect to bathua leaves specifically, they cited research on their value as a vegetarian source of zinc and magnesium – both minerals that are involved in regulating multiple functions in the body, from building immunity to preserving heart health. Additionally, they pointed to previous research on how bathua could potentially help to regulate blood pressure because of its sodium-to-potassium ratio of less than one.

How to eat bathua

Traditionally, especially in north India, bathua has been boiled, pureed, and stirred into yogurt with optional inclusion of chopped red carrots, onions, and even boiled potatoes. “This is a wholesome mix to consume, especially if the curd in home-made with cow milk,” says Sayali.

Fry and toss karipatta into the curd. You can also roll the leaves in while kneading flour for making rotis and theplas, or add them in pulaos, biryanis, soups and stews. It is a win-win.

Shilpi Madan for MoneyControl.com

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