Chettinad Sundakkai Soup

Sundakkai - Turkey Berry, is also known as wild eggplant and I was wonder struck when I saw that they were used in Thai cuisine. These tiny berry-like vegetables grow in clusters in our front yard at Panayapatti. We would pick the most tender ones for pickling in brine, and the young ones for side dishes at Lunch time. The ones that are not so tender go into making this broth-like soup. Another delicacy, and follows almost the same methods as these other Chettinad soups. Sundaikkai has bitter taste. It is believed to have numerous health benefits and is rich in Iron.

Sundakkai - 1 cup
Tur dal - 1 Tablespoon
Moong Dal - 1 Tablespoon
Turmerric Powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Oil - 2 teaspoon + 1 Tablespoon
Urad Dal - 1/4 teaspoon
Jeera - 1/4 teaspoon
Pepper - 1/4 teaspoon
Khus Khus - 1/4 teaspoon
Bay Leaf - 1
Elaichi - 1
Cloves - 2
Cinnamon - 1 small piece
Curry Leaf - 1 sprig
Onion - 1, large
Tomato - 2, medium sized ones
Green Chillies - 3 or 4
Salt to taste
Corriander Leaves - couple of sprigs, chopped fine with the tender stalks.

Slice the onions and tomatoes. Slit the green chillies.
Slice the Sundakkai and dunk it in salted water.
Strain and gently squeeze to remove excess water from the sundakkai.
Saute in a teaspoon of oil over a medium flame with a sprinkling of salt. Keep aside.
Meanwhile pressure cook both the dals in 2 cups of water with turmerric powder and 1/4 teaspoon oil (castor oil is added while cooking the dal). We need it to be really thin.
Take urad dal, jeera, pepper, khus-khus, bay leaf, elaichi, cloves and cinnamon in a small cup.
Have the sliced onions and tomatoes handy in a plate.
Heat the tablespoon of oil in a heavy based pan and add the seasoning ingredients in the cup.
Then add the curry leaves, followed by the onions.
As soon as the onions change colour add the tomatoes and stir fry over a high flame.
After a couple of minutes add in the sautéed sundakkai and continue for 1 minute or so.
Transfer this to the pressure cooker that has the dal. Add a little extra water, we need the consistency to be quite thin.
Mix well and add a little salt. Close cooker and pressure cook for 2 whistles.
Lower flame and continue to simmer for 3 minutes.
Switch off the flame and allow to cool.
Open the pressure cooker after the pressure subsides. Gently stir with a heavy ladle or a masher to mash the vegetables lightly.
Reheat the soup with salt to taste.
Garnish with chopped corriander leaves and add a little lemon juice if you wish.
Serve with Rice and a spicy poriyal for a light and wholesome lunch.

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