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This Local Dish Made From The Black Nightshade Plant Packs The Flavours Of The Lush Nilgiris

The Nilgiri Mountains form parts of the Western Ghats of India and is well-known for its dense forests and beautiful scenery. It is home to several indigenous communities who rely on organic forest produce for their day-to-day food requirements. These fruits and vegetables plucked fresh from the forests are both delicious and nutritious.

The Nilgiris is home to many tribes who source some of their food directly from the forests. Photo by Nisha Felicita

A commonly-consumed green leafy vegetable is the black nightshade (tomato-green leaves/தக்காளிக்கீரை) that grows in the wild. It packs many flavours and is believed to be filled with beneficial medicinal properties. This plant is extensively used by the Adivasis to cure many kinds of health problems, one of them being mouth ulcer. This leaf is very easy to identify as it has small tomatoes sprouting from it. Once these tomatoes ripen their colour changes from green to a shade of purple.

The tribes living here use the following recipe to cook and consume it:


  1. Cooking pan

  2. A bunch of tomato-green leaves (black nightshade)

  3. Mustard seeds

  4. One onion chopped

  5. Six green chilies slit

  6. Oil (required amount)

  7. Salt (required amount)

Cooking Instructions :

  1. Wash the leaves thoroughly and chop it into smaller pieces

  2. Place the utensil on a stove and pour some oil

  3. Once the oil heats, add a small amount of mustard seeds and let it sputter

  4. Add chopped onions and chilies to the oil and fry them for a few minutes

  5. Once the onions turn brown, add the leaves

  6. Add the required amount of salt and let it cook

  7. Finally, close the vessel for a good 10 minutes

  8. Mix and cook till the water dries out and the dish is ready!

The black nightshade is believed to cure mouth and stomach ulcers

This dish is eaten with rice.

This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.


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