Sundaikkai is a bushy, erect and spiny perennial plant. The fruits are berries that grow in clusters of tiny green spheres (ca. 1 cm in diameter) that look like green peas. They become yellow when fully ripe. They are thin-fleshed and contain numerous flat, round, brown seeds. The green fresh fruits are edible and used in Thai cuisine, being one of the essential elements of the Thai green curry. In Tamil Nadu, the fruit is consumed directly, or as cooked food like Sundaikkai Sambar, Sundaikkai Poriyal, Sundaikkai Aviyal. The word 'Vathal' means sun dried vegetable. so sundakkai vathal means sundried sundakkai vegetable. After soaking in curd and drying, the final product is fried in oil as Sundaikkai vathal.
How to select
While buying whole sundakkai berries, opt for ones which appear in dense clusters. Individual fresh berries are small, round, 10 mm (1/4") in diameter and green colored. The berries can be dried and crushed to form a coarse greenish powder. Ready to use ground sundakkai vathal powder should be checked for expiry date and any sign of lumpiness or discolouration.
" One can also use manathakkali or sundakkai vathal to make vathal kuzhambu. For this, first heat some oil in the pan and fry the vathal on medium flame till roasted (it shouldn't get burnt though), strain with a slotted spoon and set aside. After the kuzhambu is done and has thickened, add this fried vathal towards the end and switch off the stove
" you can fry the sundakkai varthals and add it to the vatha kulamboo.
" The sundakkai vathal can be fried and used as side dish for rasam/curd rice
" Fry 1 tbsp of sundaikkai vathal wih 1 tsp of peppercorns in a tsp of ghee and powder them finely. Add this powder to any type of vathal kuzhambu at the finishing stage and allow the kuzhambu simmer for a few minutes. The kuzhambu(A spicy gravy made with either fresh vegetables or dried vathal) will be delicious. Vatral kuzhambu with rice , papad and keerai is a wonderful combination.
How to store
Ground sundakkain vathal keeps well if kept away from light and air in an airtight container.
" The sundakkai vathal have diuretic properties, and are used in bowel complaints and for reducing fever.
" In the Middle East, a sour drink is made from them to relieve stomach upsets