Manathakkali keerai or Mani Thakkali keerai is a green leafy vegetable used more in Tamil Nadu for its medicinal property. Some of my friend’s call this also as Melagu Thakkali. Like tomato, the plant has more tiny seeds in them.
Manathakkali is called wonder berry or solanum nigrum. I feel wonder berry suits well as this is the best medicine used for mouth ulcers and stomach ulcers. In south India this is used more as compared to north. In Hindi it is called us Makoi but not commonly available.
The leaves, small berries and fruit are all used in cooking. I remember we used to pluck these small ripe wonder berries from the plant and eat as they are sweet in taste. (you can see those tiny fruits with the green berries in the picture below). The leaves are cooked with dal and coconut. Raw green berries are used in curries. In Tamil Nadu villages, most of the houses have this plant in their kitchen garden. This is consumed regularly like other greens. Manathakkali is also dried and sold as Manathakkali Vathal in market.
We like Kara Kuzhambu with these green berries cooked in tamarind gravy.
- Manathakkali green berries – 1 cup
- Pearl onions, peeled – 15 to 20 no
- Garlic peeled – 2 cloves
- Tamarind – lemon size (adjust as per taste)
- Red chilli powder – 1 tea spoon
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tea spoon
- Coriander powder – 2 tea spoon
- Salt – as per taste
- Jaggery or sugar – little
- For seasoning
- Mustard – ½ tea spoon
- Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tea spoon
- Cumin seeds – ½ tea spoon
- Red chilli – 1 no
- Curry leaves – few
- Asafetida – pinch
- Sesame oil /any oil – 1 table spoon
- Chop onion and garlic; soak tamarind in water for 15 minutes and extract juice and keep; clean and wash green berries and keep; heat a pan with oil and do the seasoning; add garlic, red chilli, curry leaves and fry for few seconds.
- Then add onion and fry for few minutes; add manathakkali berries and fry for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Now add all dry spices, salt, jaggery and tamarind water (around 2 cups).
- Bring to boil and cook in low flame till it is little thick and the berries are just done.
- Now serve this with hot steamed rice.
- Adding little jaggery or sugar helps to balance tamarind and chilli taste.
- In Tamil Nadu this curry is mostly cooked with sesame oil.