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Recipes | A Turkey Berry and Three Tangy Curries – Spicy Treats from South India

11 September 2012 14 Comments

Turkey berries and three recipes Sundaikkai recipe

It really amuses me how our taste buds evolve with time and quickly get accustomed to new foods. Bitter gourd, cluster beans, pumpkin which never made to my favorite list of veggies during childhood are now some of the most cooked vegetables at home.

Though I haven’t succeeded in making my children eat bitter gourd and a few other veggies as yet, they do  like to bite on a pumpkin bread, Zucchini Biscottibrownie and cakes. May be they need some more time to develop their taste buds before they start liking  the unique taste of these foods.

Turkey berry/wild eggplant or Sundaikkai (in Tamil) was first introduced to me after my marriage in 1996 by my mother-in-law and there was a love at first sight. She plucked these tiny green round berries from her backyard and taught me how to prep the berries with a small stone. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience of prepping the berries, soaking in buttermilk and watching her cook the same in her kitchen.

Recipe | A Turkey Berry and Three Recipes - Spicy South Indian Delicacies

Turkey berries/wild eggplants or Sundaikkai

Turkey berries/pea aubergine/Sundaikkai are slightly bitter tasting and are extensively used in Thai cuisine. The bitterness could be reduced to a large extent if the berries are prepped before cooking. My MIL preserves the fresh berries by carefully de seeding and adding them a mix of to thin buttermilk and rock salt. Half of which is used to make curries later and the rest half is sun dried for longer shelf life.

Recipe | A Turkey Berry and Three Recipes - Spicy South Indian Delicacies

Tender Turkey berries/wild eggplants or Sundaikkai and red Lentils

Normally pigeon pea (tuvar daal) is used to prepare the Sambhar, I often replace the same with red lentil to give different flavor to the recipe.

Recipe | A Turkey Berry and Three Recipes - Spicy South Indian Delicacies

A Turkey Berry and Three Recipes – Spicy South Indian Delicacies

Sambhar Powder

Recipe | A Turkey Berry and Three Recipes - Spicy South Indian Delicacies

Sambhar Powder

Traditionally whole dry red chilies and coriander seeds are used to make this spice mix (Sambhar powder), st times I use ready-to-use powders to reduce time. This is one such recipe where I have used powdered spices to make Sambhar powder. The same Sambhar powder is used to make the two curries below.


  • 1/2 cup red chilly powder
  • 1/2 cup coriander powder
  • 1/4 cup Bengal gram (channa dal)
  • 1/4 cup pigeon pea (tuvar dal)
  • 2 tbsp de-skinned black gram (urad dal)
  • 2 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. asafetida powder (optional)

Method; Dry roast all the lentils in a wok on medium heat for 7-8 minutes. Add peppercorns (kaali mirch) , fenugreek seeds (methi dana), cumin seeds (jeera) , and roast it for 5 more minutes.

Grind all the above roasted ingredients in a blender to make a fine powder.

Mix red chilly powder, coriander powder (dhania) , asafoetida and turmeric powder (Haldi) in the ground lentil powder.

Store the Sambhar powder in an air tight container and use it as required.

1.Turkey Berry Spread or Sundaikkai Chutney

Recipe | A Turkey Berry and Three Recipes - Spicy South Indian Delicacies

Turkey Berry or Sundaikkai chutney;


  • 1/2 cup Fresh Turkey berries
  • 2 tbsp. de skinned black gram
  • 2 tbsp. shredded coconut
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Salt as required
  • A pinch of asafetida powder

Method; Pluck the stems from the Turkey berries (sundaikkai) and wash it with clean water. Note that if the berries are small and tender you can add the whole berries to make this chutney. But if the berries are large and slightly ripen it tastes bitter and you need to remove the seeds from it.

How to prep the Turkey berries; If the berries you are using are large and ripened, you need to de seed it to avoid bitterness in the curry. Put all theTurkeyberries in a zip lock bag. Take a small stone or a heavy ladle and lightly bang the bag with it so that each berry is crushed slightly and the seeds are popped out.

Take a bowl of fresh water and add a tablespoon of buttermilk in it. Add all the broken berries in buttermilk water and wash it thoroughly to remove all the seeds that are exposed after crushing the berries. The buttermilk will avoid the berries turning into black. Use the same for making any Turkey berry recipe.

Heat oil in a wok and add black gram in it, fry till it turns golden brown in color. Add coconut and fry for 5 more minutes.

Grind the roasted black gram and coconut in a blender to make a fine powder. AddTurkeyberries, green chillies and grind it again.

Pour the chutney in a serving bowl and add salt, asafetida powder and lemon juice in it. Serve it with plain rice or Indian flat bread.

2.Turkey Berry Tamarind Curry or Sundaikkai Puli Kulambu

Recipe | A Turkey Berry and Three Recipes - Spicy South Indian Delicacies

Turkey Berry or Sundaikkai Vaatha Kulambu


  • 1/2 cup fresh Trukey berries
  • Lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • 2 cups water
  • A pinch of Jaggery/sugar
  • 10-12 shallots (small onions)
  • 1 tsp. rice flour
  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp sesame/gingely oil

Spices for tempering;

  • 2 tbsp. Sambhar powder
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 tbsp. bengal gram (channa daal)
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds

Method; Soak tamarind in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes and extract the pulp by mashing it with hands.

Remove the extracted tamarind husk and keep the tamarind water aside.

Heat oil in a wok and crackle mustard seeds, add Bengal gram, fenugreek seeds and red chilies in the same order and sauté for a few minutes on low flame.

Boil tamarind extract separately.

Add curry leaves, asafetida powder, Turkey berries (de seed them if they are large and ripened), Sambhar powder and fry for another 5 minutes.

Pour boiled tamarind extract and let it boil for 10 minutes.

Mix rice flour with 2 tsp. of water and add it to the above curry. Rice flour will help thicken the curry.

3.Turkey Berry & Lentil Curry or Sundaikkai Sambhar

Recipe | A Turkey Berry and Three Recipes - Spicy South Indian Delicacies

Turkey Berry or Sundaikkai Sambhar with plain rice


  • 1/2 cup red Lentils (Masoor daal)
  • 3/4 cup fresh Turkey berries
  • 10-12 shallots (small onions)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 lemon size tamarind
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 10-12 Curry leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar


  • 1 tbsp. Sambhar powder
  • 1 dry red chilly
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • Salt as required
  • A pinch of asafetida powder


Wash red lentil with clean water, soak lentil and tamarind in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze tamarind and extract pulp by rubbing it with hands.

Peel shallots or small onion, dice tomatoes in small cubes.

Boil red lentils, tomatoes, turmeric powder in 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker for two whistles or in a vessel till it turns soft and mushy.

Heat oil in a wok and crackle mustard seeds, add fenugreek seeds, asafetida powder, curry leaves, sugar, dry red chilly and sauté for 3 minutes.

Add shallots & Turkey berries and continue cooking for 5 more minutes on medium flame. Add Sambhar powder (recipe given above) and pour a ladle of tamarind extract in the wok. Add a few more ladles of tamarind extract and cook till all the tamarind extract is used.

Pour the cooked and slightly mushy lentil in the boiling tamarind extract and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Take off the flame and serve the spicy Turkey Berry lentil curry with plain rice.

Recipe | A Turkey Berry and Three Recipes - Spicy South Indian Delicacies

Turkey Berry or Sundaikkai Sambhar

Turkey berry spicy tamarind curry or Sundaikkai Puli Kulambu is my MIL’s recipe and the other two recipes are of a  friend Uma, who shared this Biryani recipe on Lite Bite some time back. These curries and chutney make a scrumptious meal with plain rice.


  1. Use any other veggie in place of  Turkey berries and make these curries. Carrot cubes, fresh peas, soaked chickpeas (channa), radish, potato or any other sun-dried vegetables goes well with the same recipe.
  2. Try different Sambhar powder and make these curries. Here are few more recipes for Sambhar powder.
  3. Prep and soak these berries in buttermilk and store in a cool place, it stay good for years Just keep checking the levels of buttermilk in the jar.


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  • Nami | Just One Cookbook said:

    Three delicious recipes! I’ve never had turkey berries – I am not sure if I had it before but assume I haven’t. It must be delicious and versatile as you made three recipes with it. I always love your photo styling!
    Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Kale SoupMy Profile

  • Priya said:

    Chutney,sambar and kuzhambu, everything looks delicious and fingerlicking.

  • Deepa said:

    first time
    I am seeing turky berries…nice to know a new dish..

  • chinmayie @ love food eat said:

    I have never cooked anything with these berries Thanks for such a detailed post with so much information.
    chinmayie @ love food eat recently posted..Spicy Grape Tomato SaladMy Profile

  • Faith said:

    Really beautiful dishes, Sanjeeta! I’ve never heard of turkey berries and I wonder if I can find them around here? I will definitely look for them! Everything looks delicious.
    Faith recently posted..NaanMy Profile

  • susmee said:


    I found your site when I was looking for eggless cakes, can you share the recipe for Egg less Strawberry Swiss Roll. It is such a beautiful cake with a strawberry filling that looks yummy and the texture of the cake is spot on.

  • dassana@veg recipes of india said:

    i have seen turkey berries in mumbai, but never cooked anything with them… thanks for sharing all the three recipes… if i get these here, i will try making the chutney
    dassana@veg recipes of india recently posted..puran poli | ganesh chaturthi recipeMy Profile

  • mjskit said:

    Turkey berries and pigeon peas! What fun names for food! I love the looks and the sound of the Sambhar Powder. What a flavorful seasoning mix! Thanks for introducing me to that. All three of these dishes look wonderful and they each have a different mix of ingredients. I’m not sure which one I would like the most, although I know I would enjoy them all! Another breathtaking post my friend!!!!
    mjskit recently posted..Cooking without a kitchen and an UpdateMy Profile

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com said:

    I’ve never had turkey berries before but I am a huge fan of south indian curries. Especially sambhar! Can’t live without it 😀
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com recently posted..Homemade rose waterMy Profile

  • kankana said:

    Isn’t turkey berry the same thing that you find in pickles. I used to dig it out and finish all of it!
    kankana recently posted..A Healthy Breakfast MuffinMy Profile

  • Terra said:

    I am so sorry I haven’t stopped by in awhile, I hope you are doing well! I have not heard of turkey berries, but love learning about something new:-) All three recipes sound really delicious! Hugs, Terra

  • foodwanderings said:

    Never heard of turkey berries so nice to learn something new. Your trio of dishes looks absolutely mouth watering Sanjeeta!
    foodwanderings recently posted..Apple Bourbon Bundt CakeMy Profile

  • Anamika@madcookingfusions said:

    I’ve never cooked turkey berries but have eaten pickle from these looking at the pics can recall those mixed pickles, don’t know if we get these out here in Bangalore, would love to try one of your recipe.
    Anamika@madcookingfusions recently posted..Homemade Bundi Ladoos for Ganesh Chaturthi – Indian Festival RecipeMy Profile

  • ‘Sundakkai Kara Kuzhambu’, Turkey Berry in Tamarind Curry. | love food eat said:

    […] Sanjeeta of ‘LiteBite’ has a slight variation of this recipe along with 2 other lovely recipes for Turkey Berries in her blog, check it out. […]

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