Turkey Berry is also called Small Thai Eggplant, Wild Eggplant, Pea Eggplant and Sundakkai (in Tamil). It is a slightly bitter, tiny pea-sized vegetable very common in Thailand and in parts of India. You can add Turkey Berries to your list of slightly bitter foods that have so many health-giving properties – fenugreek, bitter gourd, pomelo, radicchio, Belgian endive, Escarole and other chicory greens. But don’t be afraid, they have only a slight bitter backnote and it is delightful.
The Turkey Berries first need to be picked from their stems. This is the sort of job that is similar to shelling peas or peeling broad beans – best done while watching your favourite show on TV or sitting outside in the sunshine. Then rinse them well in cold water.
This dish, Puli Kuzhambu, is a quick Kuzhambu, a gravy-style dish that is generally eaten with rice. It has such a wonderful flavour! Deep and rich. In this recipe the Turkey Berries are stir fried with spices before being added to a tamarind gravy. You will love it.
Sundakkai Puli Kuzhambu | Turkey Berry Kuzhambu | Pea Eggplants in Spicy Gravy
0.5 cup fresh Turkey Berries
lemon sized ball of tamarind
2 cups water
2 – 3 tspn roasted Sambar powder, or to taste
10-12 small shallots or 4 larger ones
1 tomato, pureed
1 tspn rice flour
2 Tblspn ghee or Indian Sesame Oil
1 tspn brown mustard seeds
1 tspn channa dal
0.5 tspn fenugreek seeds
2 Indian dried red chillies, or to taste
pinch asafoetida powder
10 – 12 curry leaves
Soak tamarind in 2 cups of hot water and strain, pushing the pulp through the sieve, discarding the fibres and seeds. Keep aside.
Wash the turkey berries and drain. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the berries a little. Keep them aside.
Heat the ghee or oil in a kadhai (Indian Wok) or heavy pan over medium-high heat, and pop the mustard seeds. As they are popping, turn the heat down a little, and add the channa dal, then the fenugreek seeds, then the dried red chillies. As they turn golden, add the asafoetida powder and then the curry leaves and let them splutter.
Add the Turkey Berries and shallots and sauté for 5 minutes.
Now add the tamarind water, pureed tomato and sambar powder, bring it to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Mix rice flour with a little water and stir it into the kuzhambu. Allow it to simmer for a few minutes to thicken, stirring all the time.
Garnish with some coriander leaves and serve with idli or rice.