Manathakkali Keerai, also known as Black Nightshade is a variety of greens, widely used in South Indian cuisine. Like most of the greens, it has many medicinal benefits and known for treating mouth ulcers and asthma. Both the leaves and seeds are used for cooking, especially the seeds, they are preserved and known as 'manathakkali vathal', which has a good shelf-life. The green leaves when cooked has a slight bitter taste, so usually it's cooked with coconut to balance it. I tried out this gravy with coconut and tamarind, it tasted very good when mixed with rice, try it out if you can find this greens, or otherwise you can do the same gravy with regular spinach or other greens available in your region..
Need To Have
- Manathakkali Keerai - cleaned and chopped, 2 cups
- Tamarind - small lemon size
- Mustard Seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
- Urad Dal/Black Gram - 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric Powder - 1/4 teaspoon
- Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
- Salt - to taste
Roast And Grind
- Dried Red Chillies - 5
- Chana Dal/Bengal Gram - 1 teaspoon
- Coriander Seeds - 1 tablespoon
- Grated Coconut - 1 tablespoon
- Cumin Seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Roast all the ingredients given under 'roast and grind' except coconut, switch off and add the coconut and mix, cool and grind this to a fine paste. Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of hot water, when it cold enough to handle, squeeze out the pulp and strain it, then add another cup of water and squeeze out the juice, strain and keep, you'll have about 2 cups of tamarind extract. Heat some oil, add the urad dal and the mustard seeds, when it starts spluttering, add the asafoetida followed by the chopped greens.
Add the turmeric powder, salt and the tamarind extract, bring it to a boil, cover and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes, till the greens is cooked. Now add the ground paste, mix and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove and serve it with rice.
Just remove the leaves and seeds and discard the stem.
If you're doing the gravy with regular spinach, reduce the tamarind to half the amount, because regular spinach does not have the slight bitter taste of manathakkali.
I found the 1 tablespoon grated coconut enough, but if you need a thicker gravy, can increase the amount of coconut.
You can do the same gravy with any greens or vegetable that has a slight bitter taste, the final gravy tastes very good without the bitter taste.