Thursday, November 21, 2013

Drumstick Kulambu

Ya, I know, I have been under the radar for a while now!! Laziness has kicked in, these past few weeks, and all I wanted to do, was, to cuddle up in a cozy blanket and sip on some hot tea or a warm bowl of soup. Last week, I made this south-indian dish with drumstick in a coconut-based curry. It used to be one of my grandpa's favorites. My mom used to make it exclusively for him, although the rest of us enjoyed it too. All these years, I never bothered to learn it from mom as I kept thinking that the dish was too time consuming but apparently not!! This past week happened to be my grandpa's b'day and when I made this dish for the first time, I couldn't help but think of him and only kept wondering as to how much he would have enjoyed it.

Drumstick (also known as Moringa) is a vegetable used in South Asia. Most commonly used parts of the Moringa are the immature seed pods (called drumsticks) and the leaves (most nutritious part). The leaves contain a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin K and proteins. The immature seed pods are good source of dietary fiber and other essential nutrients. In South India, drumstick is used in preparing Sambar (made with vegetables, lentils, spices and tamarind pulp) and the leaves are sautéed with onions, garlic and red chillies with grated coconut (optional) similar to cooking with spinach.

In the U.S, I am told that drumsticks are available at certain asian supermarkets.I buy the frozen version as it is already cut into pieces and cooks way faster than the raw drumsticks. Kulambu is the south indian term for any kind of curry-based dish. So, here's a fairly simple, tasty and flavorful dish to add to your meal varieties!!


For the spice blend:

5-6 dry red chillies
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp channa dhal
1/2 - 3/4 cup grated coconut, fresh or frozen (adjust to taste, I used 3/4 cup)
Few curry leaves
1 - 2 tsp oil

For the kulambu (curry):

1 big onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 cup cut drumsticks, fresh or frozen (about 1 1/2" pieces)
1 - 1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste (adjust to taste)
Ground spice blend
Salt, to taste

For tempering:
1-2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves


In a pan, heat oil, add channa dhal and fry for 1-2 mins. Add dry red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and grated coconut. Fry for 3-4 mins and add curry leaves. Roast well and cool. Grind to a fine paste with little water. Set aside.

In a pan, add onion, tomatoes, turmeric, salt and water (approx. 1 1/2 - 2 cups). Allow it to boil on medium heat for 5-6 mins. After it starts to boil, add the cut drumsticks (usually I cook it in the microwave with water for 1 min) and boil for few mins. 

Add tamarind paste and mix well. Boil for another 3-4 mins. Add the ground paste and simmer for 5-6 mins until the raw smell is gone. 

In a small pan, add mustard seeds and curry leaves. After the mustard seeds starts crackling, pour it on the curry, mix well and cook for 1-2 mins. Serve hot with rice.

For a variation, use jackfruit seeds (needs to be boiled or pressure cooked) or indian eggplants instead of drumsticks.

Makes 5-6 servings.