Fat hen (Chenopodium album)

Chenopodium album is a fast-growing weedy annual plant in the genus Chenopodium that is extensively cultivated and consumed in Northern India as a food crop (referred to as बथुआ; i.e. “Bathua” or “Bathuwa” in Hindi). In Britain, where the plant is considered a weed, its standard name is Fat-hen;, though this is used for other plants also; the unambiguous name is White Goosefoot, and it is also known as lamb’s quarters,nickel greens,[citation needed] pigweed or dungweed, or more ambiguously as just goosefoot.

The leaves and young shoots may be eaten as a leaf vegetable, either steamed in its entirety, or cooked like spinach, but should be eaten in moderation due to high levels of oxalic acid. Each plant produces tens of thousands of black seeds. These are high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Quinoa is a closely related species which is grown specifically for its seeds. It is also used as a medicinal plant in traditional African medicine.

Archaeologists analysing carbonized plant remains found in storage pits and ovens at Iron Age and Roman sites in Europe have found its seeds mixed with conventional grains and even inside the stomachs of Danish bog bodies.

In India the leaves and young shoots of this plant are used in dishes such as Sarson Da Saag, soups, curries and in Paratha stuffed breads, especially popular in Punjab. The seeds or grains are used in phambra or laafi, gruel type dishes in Himachal Pradesh, and in mildly alcoholic fermented beverages such as soora and ghanti.