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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mother’s Bounty Bread -Goosefoot Weed

Drying Gossefoot leaves
Today as I spread some goosefoot weed on a dining table to dry, the thought occurred that it would be a good idea to share a recipe called Mother’s Bounty Bread with readers. The name was made up for this post seeing that in an earlier post we described the Mother’s Bounty Chutney made from coconuts and almonds which is an excellent accompaniment for this bread. However it has been a common form of bread in our home for several decades.

The White Goosefoot weed (called Bathua in Hindi or Chenopodium album technically) grows wild in many parts of the world. In Asia and India in particular, it creeps into wheat fields and is removed continuously by small farmers for a healthy dish or even as cattle feed since it is so profuse and so healthy for man and animal. It is available for free in the countryside. However, it comes up only for a few months a year. Therefore, it is a great idea to dry some for the rest of the year. To do that on a small scale just spread it out on newspaper sheets or a clean cloth sheet on a dining table or any other space available to you in shade. In a few days it will dry out. It can then be collected and stored in a jar. There are several  types of this weed that grow around the world including a fleshy one in California that may be be equally healthy but my experience is limited to the White Goosefoot variety.

To prepare the mother’s bounty bread, mix about five to ten percent by volume of crushed dried Goosefoot leaves and another 20 percent by volume (one fifth) of black gram flour (called Besan and available in East Indian stores) with refined wheat flour and then go ahead and prepare your bread just the way you would prepare an ordinary bread.

Do not worry if the mix proportions are not precise. The bread will come out fine any which way just as long as you are in the indicated ball park area.  My favorite is unleavened pan fried flat bread with this. Besan may be replaced with dried pea flour but if neither is available use a little milk or butter milk to moisten the flour before preparing the bread. Each ingredient would produce its own unique flavor.

If you wish to spice up the bread, it can be seasoned with cumin seeds, crushed garlic, chopped onions and cilantro but do add a little salt for taste either way.

The best accompaniments for this bread with a meal are as mentioned, the Mother’s Bounty Chutney or if that is not around yoghurt used as a dip and a green salad. A dip made of half and half sour cream and butter milk is delicious too. It makes a complete and nutritious meal that can be had frequently to sustain a healthy and natural meat free life style.


If you are going to bake a bread in an oven out of this, begin with the amount of flour you use for your average sized bread loaf,  add the Goosefoot weed and butter milk as before, a heaping table spoon of butter, a tea spoon of salt and another half of sugar, two cloves of finely chopped garlic to the flower mix. You may add some additional seasonings lightly according to taste. Do not overdo the seasonings though, there is already enough flavor in there. The flat pan fried version comes out better with pea flour but the oven loaf is nicer and lighter with butter milk.  Mix everything very well along with a raising agent that you are used to and then bake in precisely the same way as you would an ordinary bread after wetting the mixture enough to a consistency you are used to. Even with the additions as suggested, the bread will come out about the same size because it will rise less.

For those not very familiar with baking bread yet, try out this simple recipe available online elsewhere by changing the flour to our flour goosefoot mix with two more changes. Cut down the sugar in that recipe to one fourth and use real butter instead of margarine..

It will be great toasted with just butter or Marmite for lunch. If you would like to make a dinner out of it, lay two toasted slices on one side of a dinner plate and heap on stir fried mushrooms or tuna from a can - stir fried with sliced onions and your favorite seasonings. Fill the other side of the plate with a green tossed salad with just a vinegar and olive oil dressing with a heaping tablespoon of tartar sauce on the side. I call this dinner tuna on mother's bounty toast with a tossed green salad.  A guest would love this dinner with a glass of white wine, followed later by a cup of tea and chocolates.

The Mother's Bounty Bread can be prepared by using Spinach or Drumstick leaves instead of  Goosefoot. If the leaves are not available in dry form but fresh then steam them for a few minutes and run through a blender before mixing with the bread mix. If you are worried about oxalic acid in these healthy leaves (both spinach and goosefoot have some and persons with kidney stones in the family worry about them), add a little excess water before steaming and drain away the water.
Peeping into the author's kitchen from a rear door


Ramakrishnan Ramanathan said...

Interesting. Is this weeded out from your garden ?

ashok said...

No Ramu, I purchased this. Some years ago it was profuse in the garden but somehow it disappeared with time. I am trying to put it back now with a few plants I found. Do you have this is South India? What is the recipe over there?