Botanical name: Solanum nigrum
Sanskrit name: Kakamachi
English name: Black nightshade.
Plant Description: This nightshade grows abundantly along the eastern fringe of Australia. It grows like a weed. It also grows in India, Americas and South Africa. It is native to Eurasia.
Pant Identification: The berries grow in clusters. If a plant has only single berries, it may be the poisonous Atropa belladonna (Deadly Nightshade), which rarely is found in Australia so don't worry
Berries - The berries are ripe thus safe to eat when they are dark purple/black colour. As with most nightshades, when the fruit is not ripe (in this case, green colour), it can be poisonous.
Leaves - According to Ayurveda, the leaves of Kakamachi is one of the best leafy green vegetables one can eat for health. Fry in ghee to purify
Whole plant - Root, ripe berries, seeds, leaves and stem are used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Health Benefit of Kakamachi
Skin Health - The whole plant is great for the skin(1) although it is slightly heating (usna virya).
Liver Health - Whole plant is useful for the liver.
Lungs - Lung and respiratory health are one of Kakamachis main uses. The seeds are most useful for lung health.
Voice - Good for voice (singers eat those ripe tucker berries). Check out other methods to improve your voice.
Balances All 3 Doshas - Kakamachi alleviates all three doshas when vitiated(1) and is essential for kapha.
Aphrodisiac and Rejuvenator - The sweet taste (madhura rasa) supports this.(1)
Digestion - Causes easy movement of faeces and other waste products.
Anti-Oxidant Rich - A group of phytochemicals known as anthocyanins are responsible for the dark blue colour as well as the flavonoids is what makes dark purple coloured fruits and berries high anti-oxidant thus prevent cell damage.
Caution: Only use fresh.
“[Kakamachi] when used fresh is a rejuvenator but used after some days it is poison.”
~ Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, (ch. 7, 243)
This means when you cook the leaves or berries, eat that fresh, don't keep it overtime and eat is later.
Kakamachi Jam Recipe
- 500g of fresh ripe kakamachi berries
- 400g of quality raw sugar
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice
Ideally, harvest your own kakamachi from a bush area that you know is organic and spray free.
Ensure the berries are fully ripe (dark purple/black colour). Don't harvest unripe (green or light purple colour) as that is poisonous.
It is rare to buy the berries commercially. Solanum nigrum is prohibited for trade as a food in Australiaby the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Plus it is more fun and rewarding when you input "more completely" in your creation process.
- Remove the berries from the stems with your hands or isolate the berries while you forage them. Remove any bits of leaf and stalk.
- Gently wash the berries with fresh water. Careful because these berries are porous.
- Place the berries in a heavy-based pan and gently crush with a potato masher or squeeze with your hand, just enough to release some of the juices. Turn the pan on.
- Add the sugar and lemon juice to the pan and leave to simmer on low heat. Allow for 5 minutes of bubbles. Keep stirring to prevent the jam sticking to the bottom of the pan.
4. Cook down for around 20 minutes. Allow about 5 minutes of bubbles to come while simmering
5. Put the jam into clean jars. The jam will keep in a cool dark place for 1 year. Once opened keep in the fridge.
(1) Caraka Samhita, Sutra sthana, chapter 27.