November 13, 2009

Manathakkali Vathal

Manathakkali/Balck Nightshade are tiny berries to the size bigger than mustard seeds. They are green in color and on ripening turns deep purple. Ripe berries always reminds me of my childhood days. Those days, the ripe ones was a favorite among the kids. We were four kids at home, me, my sister and two cousins. It was a joint family. Being kids, we used to eat ourselves, if we get something like a chocolate from school or anything like that. But my sister was different. She had the habit of sharing with each one of us before she ate. Her sharing quality is to the extent that she will count the tiny ripened berries and divide it among four of us. But if it was me or my cousins, we would have easily gulped it down within seconds  of picking them.  Even today at family get-togethers, my sister's manathakkali sharing is talked about.

The green berries are used to make vathals. This is common in Tamilnadu. In Kerala, I think only the Palakkad Iyers patronize this vathal. This plant comes on its own like the curry leaves tree. That is to say we don't usually sow the seeds. It has been appearing in our backyard at one place or the other as far as my memory takes me back. It grows to a height of 1 metre with many branches. It needs sunlight to grow. Picking these tiny berries is a very tedious task. The berries are then washed and soaked in buttermilk, added with salt and turmeric. The following day, the liquid is squeezed and the berries are dried in the sun. After sun drying, its again soaked in the remaining buttermilk. This is continued till no liquid is left. After that, with a day of sun drying, it will turn dry and crisp. Store it in airtigt bottles and will stay good for nearly a year, if it lasts so. The dried berries will be 1/4 in quantity to the fresh ones used.

The vathals can be used while preparing Vethakuzhambu or its simply fried in ghee/nallennai (gingely oil( and mixed with hot rice and had. You can also add some finely chopped onion / garlci to the oil and saute till brown. Then add the dried berries and fry them. While frying the berries puff well and turn brown in color. some berries pop when fried.

The leaves/ manathakkali keerai is used to cure mouth ulcers. Its found to be effective. Leaves can be cooked  as keerai chundal or slightly sauteed and mixed in curd with a dash of salt to make a raita. The slight bitterness will be offset by the addition of curd. Fresh berries can be added in Uppadam. Other than using in uppadam, I have not cooked fresh berries on its own.




  1. I love vatha kuzhambu with this vathal,makes me nostalgic..

  2. Incidentally I made manathakkali vaththal kuzhambu today! we used to eat the berries just like that. It grows like wild at home and amma religiously makes vaththal for us to carry back.

  3. I used to love the ripe ones too.....It is only in Kerala that marathankali grows on its own, Jaya...atleast that's what I think :-))

  4. ANother nostalgic post !!!!!
    Thanks for sharing :)
    Hope u made a great vathakozhambu :D

  5. The leaves are also used so my mom add those fresh berries along the leaves in kootu or massiyal! Gosh I cannot find any in my neck of wood!
    U make me nostalgic!

  6. lovely berries and what a sweet sister...

  7. Thanks for the lovely comments.

    Jayashree, could be. Here both kariveppila and manathakkali comes on its own isn't it. Nice to see you here. Hope all is well at your end.

    Cham, thats a good idea to use both the berries and leaves.

  8. I still remember those days when my mom makes kuzhambu using this,I will pick all those and eat,now after so long,I relaly miss this one ...

  9. Gives great flavor and aroma to kuzhambu!


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