Milagu thakkali/ Manathakkali as we call in Tamil is a green we use extensively in cooking. And the berries from the plant make a wonderful tangy gravy which goes very well with rice and appalam. When I was a kid, we used to live in Pondicherry. In the house we lived, there was a huge backyard with various plants. One plant was this manathakkali. My granny used to harvest the berries and I would happily help her with the harvesting part. Mum made this delicious gravy but at that time I didn’t like it because of its bitterness. But now I love it. I am also happy that my daughter could withstand the bitterness and enjoy this with her favourite appalam and rice. I posted this recipe a long ago but this is an updated version.
Now I don’t have a backyard and so no plants at home (except for some cement pots with tulsi) I happened to see the berries at our local farmer’s market and at once bought them. These were the last of the berries that farmer had. Usually the berries are larger and is easy to remove the stalk. But this time they were so tiny and I was afraid that I would crush the berries if I try to remove the stalk. So I added them with the stalk and so the taste was slightly more bitter. So if you happen to use these berries, make sure to remove the stalk to remove some bitterness. This is the basic tamarind based gravy in our house hold and we just keep on changing the vegetables. Each vegetable renders a taste to the gravy.
Manathakkali/ Night Shade Berry-1 cup
Pearl Onions- 15-20
Tamarind-a small marble sized ball
Sambar Powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/4tsp
Till Oil- 5 tbs
Mustard Urad Dhal Mix-1tsp
Methi Powder-a pinch
Curry Leaves-1 sprig
1. Heat oil and splutter mustard urad dhal.
2. Add curry leaves and hing.
3. Add the halved pearl onions and sauté till golden.
4. Add the berries and sauté for a minute.
5. Soak tamarind and extract juice.
6. Add the tamarind juice, salt, turmeric and sambar powder.
7. Allow it to boil on low flame. Keep the pan covered until oil separates.
8. Serve hot with rice and accompany it with appalam.
An introduction to the plant and the berries. Click on image to read the post.
This is the vatral we make with the berries. Click on image for recipe..