Manathakkali keerai is rich in nutrients. Here's how to make a delicious dish using the leaves and dal

Manathakkali Keerai, a variety of Indian Black nightshade, is cultivated for culinary as well as medicinal usage. This perennial, short-lived herb grows to a height of about 30 to 120 cm, and its leaves are heart-shaped and toothed at the edges, and have a hairy texture.

It bears fruit-like berries which turn red when ripe. The fruits are called manathakkali in Tamil and makoi in Hindi, literally meaning ‘fragrant tomatoes'.

The leaves' medicinal properties have been known for decades; reason why they have been a part of our diet for ages. Take, for example, keerai poriyal, porridge with lentils and leaves used to treat stomach ulcers and manathakali vathal kozhambu.

The leaves are also used in the treatment of liver disorders, fever and diarrhoea. One can simply chew the leaves for instant relief from cough, cold and mouth ulcers. It also has a high iron content, and so, is recommended for anaemic children and pregnant women with iron deficiency.

Now, for a recipe.

Manathakkali Keerai Masiyal

Ingredients

Manathakkali keerai: 2 cups

Masoor dal: 1/2 cup

Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp

Salt: To taste

Garlic (peeled): 4

Green chillies: 2

Onion (chopped): 1/2

Tomato (chopped): 2

Tamarind: 5 gm

For Tempering

Oil: 2 tsp

Mustard: 1/2 tsp

Jeera: 1tsp

Urad dal: 1/2 tsp

Red chilles: 3

Hing: 1/2 tsp

Method

Clean the leaves. Remove the stems and wash thoroughly.

Boil the masoor dal till it is mashed.

Place the leaves in a pan with the chopped onion, tomatoes, garlic pearls, turmeric powder and slit green chillies and boil till they are soft.

Mix the cooked dal and leaves.

Heat oil in frying pan, add mustard, jeera, urad dal, hing and red chillies. Once the mustard crackles and the dal turns golden brown, add the tempering to the dal mixture. Serve with steamed rice.

Chef Baskar, Senior Sous Chef, The Park.