Turkey berry: tiny size, big benefits

Ever heard of Turkey berry? It's a tiny green-coloured berry that's filled with remarkable health benefits

Turkey berry

Good things come in small packages. This well-known idiom can rightly describe the tiny Turkey berry. Tagged as Solanum torvum, this berry is also called as shoo shoo bush, prickly nightshade or the devil’s fig. Growing humbly in most of our Indian kitchen gardens, this unassuming devil’s fig is green when mature and yellow when tender. Spherical in shape, Turkey berry has a taste which is more on the bitter side, but when cooked in the right way, it can lead to sumptuous dishes. More common in the tropics, it consists of several oval, reddish seeds, which are woody in texture.

Known as sundakkai in Tamil, sundekkayi in Kannada and kottuvastu in Telugu, this berry has a unique process of cleaning and cooking. While looking for this vegetable, opt for those which are green, soft and thin-skinned. They should be in thick clusters. Here’s how you clean them: first, remove the stalks. They can be crushed gently on a hard surface or cut into two with a knife. Immerse them in water and clean in such a way that some of the woody seeds settle at the bottom. Repeat the process 2-3 times.

Now, the little nutritional powerhouses are ready to be either cooked green or after being sun-dried. The berry in the sun-dried form can be fried in oil and used either in vathal kuzhambu (sun-dried Turkey berry in tamarind gravy) or more kuzhambu (sun-dried Turkey berry in thick spicy curd).

Here are its many health benefits:

• Consuming Turkey berry keeps many intestinal problems like indigestion, diarrhoea and gastric ulcers at bay.

• On regular consumption, symptoms of anaemia are also controlled to a large extent by this wondrous vegetable. This can be attributed to its dense iron content.

• Also, because of its antifungal and antibacterial properties, it hinders infections.

• The huge presence of antioxidants like flavanoids, alkaloids etc, in Turkey berry can ward off various cardiovascular diseases and can prevent the onset of stroke.

• It can also help to eradicate the harmful uric acid from the body, thus keeping various kidney diseases at bay.

All said and done, this berry, though teeny-weeny in size, can act as a remarkable antidote to various human ailments. Three cheers to this nutritional bomb!

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