Today’s recipe is a tasty chutney as much as it a medicine. There is a very popular quote in Tamil – “Unave Marunthu Marunthe Unavu” meaning Food as Medicine and Medicine as Food. Given we eat right and our food is natural, food by itself becomes the best medicine. India is a country with a number of precious herbs and each with a medicinal property. Thoothuvaalai, a medicinal plant with the botanical name of Solanum Trilobatum is very good for cold, cough and flu. I was introduced to this by my mother-in-law. Given how my father-in-law is too keen into alternative medicine and eating healthy, my MIL prepares this Thuvaiyal (Chutney) whenever possible.
This Thoodhuvaalai Keerai (the greens) is usually sold in small batches all over our market when in season. Last time we were with our in-laws, my MIL showed me how to clean up the greens and prepare the chutney. I was down with sore throat and pretty bad flu, believe me this chutney mixed along with some rice made me feel so much better. This is one plant that is full of thorns – even the leaves have sharp big thorns. I carefully cleaned up the leaves – removing any large thorns but leaving the ones that were tender. I then fried these leaves in gingely/sesame oil with shallots and garlic, ground into a smooth chutney, following my MIL’s recipe. This chutney is very easy to prepare and stays well in the fridge for over a week, without losing its freshness. Given how we lose the sense of taste with flu and cold, this chutney feels comforting to eat. On the other hand, if you are not a fan of rice or chutney, simply fry some of these leaves in oil/ghee and that should help the flu too.
Looking for more medicinal food recipes?! Check out this Vethalai/Tamalapaku Rasam - a good spicy soup made from Betel Leaves.
To make Thoothuvaalai Keerai Thuvaiyal
What I used –
- Thoothuvaalai Leaves, 1 cup packed
- Shallots/Pearl Onions, 10-12
- Garlic Pods, 6-7
- Oil, 2 tsp
- Mustard Seeds, ½ tsp
- Cumin/Jeera Seeds, ½ tsp
- Chana Dal, 1 tbsp
- Dried Red Chillies, 4-5
- Tamarind, a small marble sized ball
- Salt, as required
How I made –
1. First clean the Thoothuvaalai Keerai carefully by removing any stems or thorns. Check along the veins of the leaves for any largish thorns and remove them too. Wash and keep the greens aside.
2. In a pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and chana dal. As they splutter and dal is golden in color, add dried red chilles along with the peeled shallots and garlic pods. Fry until both garlic and shallots are transparent and there is no raw smell. Add the cleaned Thoodhuvalai Keerai to the pan and fry until the leaves are wilted.
3. Add salt required and keep it covered for at least 5-7 mins. The color of the Keerai (greens) does not change much but if they have wilted, switch off the heat. Let the mixture cool down. Blend until smooth in a mixer grinder after adding the tamarind pulp
4. Mix with hot rice and serve hot. A dollop of ghee or gingely/sesame oil enhances the taste.
- Thoodhuvalai Keerai has throns all over including the leaves. Careful cleanup is required. Remove any largish thorns and the tender thorns can be left out.
- My MIL doesn’t add urad dal to the recipe so I followed the same. Can be added if desired. Reduce the amount of chana dal to ½ tbsp.
- Shallots/Pearl onions are recommended, again for its medicinal value in reducing the flu. Normal onions can be used if these are not available.
- Garlic has medicinal properties too and is highly recommended for this recipe – partly to remove any smell from the greens itself and then to enhance the flavor.