The Wonderberry – Manathakkali


Did you know that Manathakkali has the phytochemical resveratrol , to which the health benefits of ‘Red Wine’ and ‘Dark Chocolate’ are attributed to?

In an era prior to video games and 24×7 TV,  one of the main pastime for children were to search for the ripe purple fruits of Solanum Nigrum/Solanum Americanum- manathakkali (aka kaagesoppu/kamanchi chettu/makoi/black nightshade  in other languages) and eat it.

It has amazing medicinal and nutritional values, which was known to and valued by our ancestors. Most things that are easily available wont be valued, and the same goes with manathakkali too.  Instead of consuming this whenever available, we have started buying varieties of exotic berries  sprayed with pesticides , imported from the world over.

This Wonder berry has anthocyanins and is a powerhouse of antioxidants and has anti cancer properties. It is also rich in Vitamin A, which will help improve eyesight and night blindness. It is used in traditional medicine to heal peptic and mouth ulcers,  improve gut health and digestion.

The ripe berries are either consumed directly or can be processed naturally at home. The ripe and unripe berries are mixed in spiced/yogurt/buttermilk and dried thoroughly in sun(to increase Vitamin D ). This mixture can then be stored and fried whenever required in oil/ghee.  This snack is generally given to expecting/ new/nursing mothers. The probiotics in the mixture, the Sun exposure and essential fat(Short Chain Fatty Acids) from frying in Ghee, put together ensures that this is a perfect recovery food for new mothers. It helps heal their internal wounds, strengthens their bones and improves their lactation and digestion.

The leaves of this plant are edible and are highly nutritious. They have high amounts of Vitamin K which is the miracle solution for the Vitamin D deficiency and low bone density. Instead of buying  Vitamin D and Calcium supplements to rectify your deficiency, include these leaves in your diet in any form that will suit your palette.

It’s time to move over the blue/black/goji/acai berries and find the wonder berry in your market or your backyard. Just because the spinach lady near your house doesn’t sell this with tags such as ‘heart-healthy’, ‘antioxidant-rich’, ‘organic’, ‘anti-aging’, ‘anti-cancer’ doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have all these properties. In fact it has all of this and one more, ‘ fresh’, as it grows close to you and not in a place you have seen/heard of only in a map.

Have you plucked this berry in your childhood? When was the last time you ate this? Pour in your thoughts via comments

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