Bathua Saag: benefits and cooking tips

Features Issue 219 Feb, 2020
Text by Suman Chaudhari

In Nepal most people know lamb’s quarters as bethe ko saag but among people in the country’s southern plains it is famous as bathua. It is a weed that grows freely, and though it is delicious and has high nutritional value and health benefits, it is neglected by many. It contains calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, trace minerals and is also rich in vitamin C, riboflavin and carotene. Among bathua’s many health benefits, it helps fight osteoporosis, is good for the liver, and keeps the heart healthy. It also lowers and stabilizes blood sugar levels and may help fight cancer.
During the winter season, bathua is one of the most loved greens in the Terai. It’s found everywhere – in the wheat fields, in potato fields and mustard fields. It can be cooked in different ways – here are three: frying, making curry with soup and also turning it into chutney.

Gravy Bethe Saag
First you need to wash the bethe saag three or four times with clean water. You can use any cooking oil, and it can be cooked as chhekwa or by using oil directly in the pan. In the chhekwa way, first put some water in a pan or kadhai. Add salt to taste to the bethe saag, then boil it for 10 minutes. After it’s cooked, drain it and then heat some oil in the pan. Prepare onion, ginger, garlic, and chilly, chopped small, and fry till brown. You can use fresh chilly or dried chilly. If it is dried chilly, fry it a little first before putting in the ginger, onion and garlic. You can also use bay leaves for flavor. After it’s brown, add the cooked bethe to it and your dish is ready to eat.
In the direct method, heat the pan first. Put some oil in the pan. Fry garlic, ginger, onion, chilly, and bay leaves in the oil as above. After that add the washed bethe saag. Add salt to taste and a little water and cook till it’s ready. You can add some rice flour in the water if available but it’s optional. The dish is then ready to serve with rice.

Fried Bethe Saag
For fried bethe saag cook it just like in the in direct method but add no water, just fry the greens till no moisture remains.

Bethe Saag Chutney
To make chutney, boil bethe saag till it’s a little more than half cooked but don’t cook it fully. After that squeeze the water out of the saag and mix with cooking oil, fried red chili and salt. Now your bethe saag chutney is ready to be served!