Nothing beats homegrown vegetables and fruits. I grew up eating a lot of fresh produce from our own farm and I highly regret not being able to have my own little kitchen garden now. I am working on it and I hope i’ll soon be able to have a terrace garden. Until then I try to get homegrown produce from friends and family whenever possible.
Every time my mom visits me she gets me lots of fresh coconuts, plantains, some vegetables and hers from our garden. I get almost all rice I use from my Aunts farm and I am beginning to get spices, herbs and vanilla from my cousins farm at Varanashi. Almost all my friends know whom to call if they have some excess homegrown produce.
Sometime back My aunt who lives in Pondicherry was visiting us and she got these lovely ‘Turkey berries’ or ‘Sundakkai’ grown in her own garden. She has a lovely kitchen garden where she grows greens, fruits, veggies and herbs and she said when she harvested and cooked with her Sundakkai she couldn’t stop thinking about how much I would have loved it. So she got some along when she come home.
Turkey Berry is also known as Wild Eggplant, Pea Eggplant and Pea Aubergine. It’s used a lot in Thai cuisine and here in India, people of Tamilnadu love it. It’s not only cooked fresh but also sun dried and stored to add to curries when it’s not available fresh.
I had never really cooked with Turkey berry before so I was thrilled. My Aunt and I cooked it together as I wanted to learn how to cook with it the traditional way. I decided not to experiment this time and stuck to the Tamil way of cooking it. This is the recipe my aunt learnt from a old Tamil lady that she knows and it turned out perfect!
‘Turkey berry’ or ‘Sundakkai’, has a very unique flavor with slight bitterness to it. When smashed and cooked in a tangy tamarind base, bitterness is not very prominent. Little pink shallots or ‘sambar onions’ add a lovely sweetness, color and crunch to the dish with Drumsticks (Moringa pods) lending it’s magical umami-ness. It’s absolutely terrific when mixed with steaming hot rice.
Thank you so much these and the recipe Ashu!
Unfortunately nothing can replace the flavor of Turkey berries here. You can make the same dish using eggplants or just with onions and drumsticks and it’ll taste very good though.
While homemade sambar powder tastes best, if you don’t have it buy some good quality sambar powder and it’ll work ok.
Once again fresh tamarind pulp is the best but bottled will work fine too.
Adding the rice flour at the end basically thickens the whole sauce and brings all the flavors together.
This curry can replace pickles very well in most meals. It stays well for unto 3 weeks when refrigerated and only tastes better with time.
Sanjeeta of ‘LiteBite’ has a slight variation of this recipe along with 2 other lovely recipes for Turkey Berries in her blog, check it out.
- 1 cup Sundakkai or Turkey Berries
- 1 cup drumsticks or Moringa pods cut into about 2 inch long pieces
- 6-8 small pink shallots or ‘sambar onions’, peeled
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced tomato
- 4 – tbsp of oil (I used coconut oil)
- 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp dry fenugreek seeds
- 2-3 whole dry red chilies
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 spring of fresh curry leaves
- 1/4 cup thick tamarind pulp
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp sambar powder
- 1 tbsp rice flour
- salt to taste
Wash and dry the turkey berries. Smash each one of them individually in a pestle and mortar till it bursts. Keep it aside.
Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and as soon as it starts to splutter add the asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, dry red chilies and garlic. Fry for a minute in low flame till the garlic is slightly golden. Now add the curry leaves and peeled pink shallots. When the shallots are fried for a couple of minutes, add the smashed turkey berries. Fry this in medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Now add the fresh tomatoes and drumstick pieces and continue to fry till the tomatoes are soft.
Add salt, turmeric and sambar powder and fry in low flame till the raw smell of the spices is gone. Take care not to burn it.
Add the tamarind pulp and mix well. Add 1/2 cup of water and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. This is a slightly thick curry so do not make it very watery. If you want you can further thin it down a little but not too much. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and spice as required. Finally mix the rice flour with 1/4 cup water, stir well to dissolve and add it to the curry. Continue to cook till it all thickens well.
Serve hot with rice.
To all my readers in Bangalore :
I am going to be a part of Bio Fach India 2012, South Asia’s largest organic fair which is happening between 29th November and December 1st in Bangalore. ‘The Alternative’, official Consumer connect parter is organizing a series of panel discussions, workshops, interactive sessions, quizzes, film screenings, food tasting sessions and lots of activities in which I’ll be doing a presentation followed by a cooking demo on the 30th, Friday.
Come if you would like to know more about ‘My Organic Kitchen’ and of course check out the largest organic fair in South Asia.