Over the past decade, few superfoods from India have gained the status of moringa. From supermarkets in America to Europe, moringa powder has made an appearance on shelves across the world. In South India, the drumstick tree is almost ubiquitous, and both the drumstick and leaves have been a 'go-to' ingredient for their wellness benefits. Even before moringa became the globally acclaimed superfood it is today, I remember sampling a delicious dish made with drumstick leaves at southern spice, the South Indian speciality restaurant at Taj Coromandel, Chennai. One of the restaurant's popular starters is rasam that doubles up as a soup that adds the goodness of this superfood to a flavourful soup.
COVID-19 has put the focus on ingredients that build immunity. It's one reason for the renewed interest in moringa and drumstick leaves. There are few greens and vegetables that can match the wealth of benefits that are packed into drumstick leaves. For instance, drumstick leaves contain more Vitamin C than oranges and more calcium than milk. It's a rich source of iron, one reason why it's used to battle anaemia. And then there's zinc that combines with Vitamin C (aside from Vitamin D and B in drumstick leaves) to bolster its immunity-boosting properties. Other benefits include its anti-inflammatory properties and the presence of antioxidants.
There are quite a few South Indian recipes that allow you to add drumstick leaves to your diet. From rasam, to a stir-fry or poriyal, you can try these easy recipes at home:
Recipe - Murungai Elai Chaaru | Drumstick Leaf Soup
Recipe courtesy Sujan Mukherjee - Executive Chef, Taj Coromandel
This nutritious soup combines the curative properties of drumstick leaves along with dal and is a great appetiser.
Drumsticks leaves: 1 bunch
Masoor dal whole: 100 gm
Garlic pearls: 20 gm
Shallots: 30 gm
Refined oil: 30 ml
Cinnamon: 2 gm
Cloves: 2 gm
Ginger: 20 gm
Turmeric powder: 2 gm
cumin seeds: 3 gm
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Salt: to taste
Byadgi chilli: 3 gm
Mustard: 2 gm
Asafoetida: 1 gm
1. Wash and peel the drumsticks leaves and blanch it. Make a fine puree of the same.
2. Boil the masoor dal along with cinnamon and cloves.
3. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan add mustard seeds, cumin, chopped shallots, garlic and ginger. Sauté it nicely.
4. Add the byadgi chilli and curry leaves to it and mix well.
5. Now, add boiled masoor dhal and allow to boil.
6. Once it's boiled well, add the blanched drumsticks leaves puree to it.
7. Mix well. Add salt and asafoetida to it.
8. Check the seasoning and strain the soup.
9. Serve hot.
Murungai Elai Vadai | Drumstick Leaf Vada
Serves 10 pieces
This simple, rustic recipe combines the goodness of drumstick leaves with ragi.
- Ragi flour: 1 cup
- Drumstick leaves (without stalks): 1 bunch
- Small onions (shallots): 10
- Jeera: 1 teaspoon
- Coriander (finely chopped): a few sprigs
- Curry leaves (finely chopped): a few sprigs
- Ginger (grated): a small piece
- Green chillies (finely chopped): 2
- Salt: to taste
- Cooking oil to fry
1. Combine all ingredients with the flour, add water as you do and blend to perfection.
2. Flatten the mixture to thin discs.
3. Fry carefully in normal oil.
4. The key to this is to make sure the vadas are fried to perfection. Don't over fry the vadas; it could result in the vadas getting charred.
Murungai Elai Poriyal | Stir-Fried Drumstick Leaves
-.Small onions (Shallots): 10
- Drumstick leaves (without stalks) 2 handfuls
- Garlic (crushed): 2-3 pods
- Dried chilli: 2
- Turmeric: 1/4 teaspoon
- Asafoetida: a pinch
- Curd: 1 spoon
Curry leaves: a few sprigs
Urad dal: 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard: 1/4 teaspoon
Dried chilli: 2
Gingelly oil: 1 teaspoon
1. Rinse the drumstick leaves and keep aside.
2. Temper the mustard, urad dal, curry leaves and red chillies in gingelly oil.
3. Then add the shallots, asafoetida and then garlic.
4. Add the drumstick leaves and stir.
5. Place a lid on the cooking vessel and let it cook for five minutes on a medium flame.
6. Add the curd and salt and stir before you serve.
This healthy recipe retains much of the goodness of the drumstick leaves. The curd doesn't just add a nice flavour twist but also adds a unique texture. Serve it as an accompaniment with rice and sambar or rasam.
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About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.