The drumstick tree is a common feature in many home gardens in Tamil Nadu. Even tiny houses tend to boast drumstick trees, braving the itchy caterpillars the tree plays host to after the rains. The drumstick leaves are highly nutritious, the most significant nutrient being Vitamin E, which is a powerful anti-oxidant. In Tamil households when ghee is made by melting butter, drumstick leaves are added to the melted butter to prevent rancidity. The fruit of the tree, the actual drumsticks, are used in several food preparations in combination with other foodstuffs as in the Sambar, Aviyal, Poriyals and Meat Kozhambu, or they are used alone.
One morning my neighbour rang the doorbell and presented me with freshly plucked drumsticks from his tree. They were so tender I decided to make a poriyal. This is a recipe used in my mother’s family for drumsticks, but it can also be used for vegetables such as broad beans, cluster beans, brinjal, and fresh field beans. It’s so simple that it can’t go wrong.
- 4 fresh and tender Drumsticks
- 1 medium Onion, diced
- 3 T Coconut scrapings, ground
- ¼ tsp Mustard seeds
- 2 tsp Chilli powder
- ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 ½ tsp Salt, or to taste
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1 C water
- 2 T vegetable Oil
- Top and tail the drumsticks. Cut them into 2-inch pieces and slit lengthwise.
- Boil the water with chilli and turmeric powder and salt. Add the drumsticks and cook till tender.
- Heat the oil in a kadai or wok. Add the mustard seeds and wait till it pops.
- Immediately add the diced onions and fry till translucent. Drain the water from the drumsticks and add to the onions.
- Add the ground coconut and stir. Cook on low heat till almost all the water is evaporated. Do not burn.
- Add the drumsticks and mix till they are coated with the masala, taking care not to break the drumsticks.
- Cook till dry. Add the curry leaves and remove.
When the drumsticks are cut, you can remove a layer of the fibrous skin to make it tender and easier to cook and eat.