When the larger population of the world prefers to preserve their bountiful seasonal fruits, vegetables & other fresh produce by freeze-drying them, Indians prefer to sun-drying their fresh herbs, berries & spices. Indians have been using sun-dried (dehydrated) produce for culinary and medicinal purposes for over 1000 years. Ayurveda, Siddha, and other Indian medicine systems prescribe medicines prepared using sun-dried herbs or fresh herbs. We use dried herbs for making powders & tablets (chooranam) and fresh herbs for external applications, or for making decoctions, etc. We also prepare delicious vatha kulambu, a traditional South Indian curry, using sun-dried vegetables, berries, or fruits and serve with rice as shown below.
Black nightshadow (manathakali keerai) is one of the common plants grown in the kitchen gardens in Tamilnadu. Children like to take tiny red/ black berries and chew their leaves as they are useful to treat mouth ulcers. Manathakkali leaves are also useful for adults to treat stomach ulcers and to protect the liver. Still, people in rural TamilnaduIt use these greens to treat Hepatitis. We prepare keerai kootu in different ways: sometimes we prepare kootu with/ without coconut, and other times we prepare this with/ without lentils. Here I have added spicy coconut paste and cooked green gram lentils (moong dal) for making manathakkali keerai kootu.