Sundakkai (Turkey Berry) Sojji

sundakkai sojjiSundakkai sojji is a mild dal based side-dish that goes well with Idli. I’d never tasted sundakkai or sundakkai sojji before my marriage. I discovered this sojji only after my marriage. Adadadada.. what a sojji! This is as good as a sojji can get (don’t ask me what a sojji is, I don’t know) and it’s a pretty nice way to prepare the sundakkai (apart from the usual kuzhambu). The sojji is fresh, mellow, and comforting neither too hot nor too flat. My kids adore this sojji with idli – I really don’t know why. I eat it too and I like it but I am not crazy about it.  We make this sojji very often at home because the kids like it.

Sundakkai (Turkey berry) also happens to grow in our backyard. It is a non-fussy, easy going plant and it just keeps yielding so much fruit over and over that we had to distribute the sundakkai to all our relatives. How about farm-fresh sundakkai packed stylishly in jars or cellophane pouches with cute tags for party favours? Why not? These are the only berries that we get around here in Chennai. Definitely Pinterest worthy, I’d say. A small kaal aazhakku (you know aazhakku? a 1/4 aazhakku must be 50 gm I suppose) of these sundakkai sell for around 20 or 30 rupees in our market. You can use these sundakkai in your kuzhambu or sambar, make thokku or make this sojji.
This sundakkai and a couple of hardy greens are the only plants that have survived in our garden despite our negligence (partial – we do water them somedays I guess), limited sunshine and the dogs’ forages. Having the sundakkai plant in the backyard is both a boon and a bane. It’s great when we suddenly discover that our fridge is empty and we can just hop out and pluck these for the morning side-dish. It is a nuisance too when we over-do it, it is very easy to get carried away by the idea of your very own backyard vegetable garden and keep cooking the same sundakkai or greens every day. It happened in our house recently. We’d have a reserve of sundakkai kuzhambu in our fridge always and keerai masiyal (Dal and greens mash) everyday. Tough times those.
Prep Time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins
Serves: 5

Ingredients

Sundakkai – 1 cup washed and stalks removed
Toor dal/Split Pigeon peas – 1 cup
Shallots/Sambar onions – 15 peeled and chopped (Use one large onion if you don’t have shallots)
Tomato – 1 large chopped
Garlic – 4-5 cloves  peeled
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch
Green Chillies – 2 slit lengthwise

Tempering

Oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds/Jeera – 1 tsp
Whole dry red chillies – 2-3 broken into halves
Garlic – 3 cloves with peel, crushed roughly

Method

1.      Rinse the dal in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Remove the sundakkai stalks and rinse well.

2.      In a pressure cooker, throw in the washed sundakkai, dal, chopped sambar onions, chopped tomatoes, whole garlic, turmeric powder, green chillies and a dash of Asafoetida. Pour in 2 cups of water and mix well. Cover and cook till the dal is soft (15-20 minutes).

3.      Using a potato masher, mash the dal and sundakkai mixture together in the cooker itself.

4.      In a kadai/skillet, heat oil and when hot drop the mustard seeds. When they’ve spluttered, drop the whole dry red chillies, cumin and crushed garlic and sauté till the garlic turns golden. Pour in the sundakkai-dal mixture from the cooker into the kadai and simmer for 3-4 minutes. The sojji should be the consistency of a dal (slightly thick). Switch off. Serve hot with idli.
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