Synonyms: Amaranthus gangeticus, Amarannthus tristis, Amaranthus mangostanus
Common Name: Chinese Spinach, Joseph’s-coat Fountain Plant, Tampala , Summer Poinsettia
Local Name: Chaulai (चौलाई) , Ghiuoo Chaulai
Chaulai is an annual potherb, usually seen growing as a weed in arable land, roadside, garden and in cultivated field. Chaulai is found upto an altitude of 2000 m in Western Himalayas. It generally prefers well-drained sunny moist habitat.
Chaulai Leaves are edible and eaten raw or cooked. Leaves are with very mild flavor, so young leaves and tender terminals are usually preferred for cooking. These are rich source of minerals and vitamins, thus used as an excellent summer substitute of spinach.
Local people harvest chaulai from wild for their local use of food and medicine. Chaulai is also harvested as a fodder and supposed to increase the milk yield of milch cattle.
Plant is occasionally cultivated and also met as an escape species in waste places.
Plant is an erect tropical annual potherb with long-stalked leaves, growing up to 50-150 cm tall.
Stem obtusely angular, glabrous, except young parts.
Leaves ovate- ovate- rhomboid, 10-15 cm long, acuminate, subentire, crenulate, often blotches with red- purple, base cuneate; petioles 2.5- 10 cm long.
Flowers uni sexual, in axillary and paniculate, clustered, terminal spikes; bracts awned, exceeding the tepals. tepals 3 , oblong- obovate, awned. Stamens 3. Utricles 3- denate at apex.
Chaulai edible leaves can be best harvested from pre- summer to rainy season. Edible seeds can be collected from mid summer to beginning of autumn season.
Whole plant of chaulai is edible. Young chaulai Leaves are used as a vegetable and eaten for their nutritive and medicinal value. Stem and seeds of chaulai are also edible, seeds can be cooked as whole and supposed to be very nutritious but need to be ringed thoroughly before cooking to destroy the saponin present in them.
Leafy Vegetable (saag):
Tender shoot tips and leaves of chaulai, 1 kg; mustard oil, 2 table spoons; coriander powder 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed ¼ table spoon; turmeric powder, 1/4 table spoon; red chillies, 2-3; chopped onions 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste ½ table spoon and salt according to taste.
Boil chopped leaves they become soft. Then mesh manually or in a mixer. Then sauté with hot mustard oil and the spices listed before in sequence. This sauted saag is then ready and can be served as such or can be mixed with 2 or 3 chopped onion and cooked for another 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Seeds of chaulai are cooked as a whole in variety of way like Upmma,Rehdoo and kheer
Chaulai whole seeds,1kg; mustard oil, 2 table spoons; cumin seed ¼ table spoon; turmeric powder, 1/4 table spoon; red chillies, 2-3; chopped onions 2-4; chopped tomatoes 2-4; curry leaves (Murraya koenigii), 50 g and salt according to taste.
Seeds of chaulai are first of all cooked like rice and then boiled seeds are sauted with spices like cumin seeds, turmeric powder, red chillies, curry leaves (Murraya koenigii) chopped onion, chopped tomatoes and salt. Now Upmma is ready to serve.
Chaulai whole seeds, ½ kg; rice/oats, 250 g; cumin seed ¼ table spoon; turmeric powder, 1/4 table spoon; red chillies, 2-3; curry leaves/mint leaves (Murraya koenigii), 50 g and salt according to taste.
For preparing REHDOO a local dish chaulai seeds are cooked with butter milk and oats after adding turmeric powder, salt and green chilies according to taste. Then cook seeds till they are soft and then serve after garnishing with chopped coriander leaves.
Chaulai whole seeds, ½ kg; rice/oats, milk, 1 liter; grated dry fruits, 50-100g; 250 g; sugar/ honey/natural sweetener according to taste.
For preparing KHEER cook whole chaulai seeds with sugar/ honey, oats/ rice in milk till they are soft then garnish the recipe with grated dry fruits acc. to taste and serve. Recipe can be served during fast also.
Nutritive Value of Leaves:
The leaves contain about 3.5% protein, 0.25% fat, 6.6% carbohydrate, 3.1% ash, 24mg iron per 100g, 464mg calcium per 100g, they are rich in vitamin A and have a fair content of vitamins B1 and C.
On a zero-moisture basis 100g of the leaves contains up to 2441mg calcium, 1008mg phosphorus, 51mg iron, 34mg sodium, 4475mg potassium, 37,623 micrograms beta-carotene equivalent, 0.68mg thiamine, 2.37mg riboflavin, 11.48mg niacin and 730mg ascorbic acid1.
Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.
The plant is considered to be astringent, diuretic, appetizing, digestive and a wholesome diet. Decoction of the plant finds application in dysentery and haemoptysis. Leaves are said to act as an antidote to poison. Root- paste, mixed with warm water, when given internally, induces vomiting and thereby purges out toxic matter from the bowel. Powdered root is effective in onychia; root paste, in combination with honey and rice water, is useful in leucorrhoea 2 .
Source of Income:
Chaulai is a good source of income for local people specially woman. As it is free source of vegetable for them as mostly found growing as weed in cultivated land. They earn Rs 15 to 20 for a small bunch of tender Chaulai branches.
Other Uses: Plant is harvested as a fodder.
!. Purohit SS, Sharma AK, Prajapati ND, Kumar T. A handbook of medicinal plants: a complete source book. Edition. 2009;2:352-3.
2.Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. (1985); Medicinal Plants of China reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4