Yesterday, our local supermarket chain – Lulu’s, in Abu Dhabi, surprised us with drumstick (Moringa) leaves, and that too much cheaper than any other greens on the shelf. We picked two bunches (professionally packed) and decided to have a go at making some traditional ‘muskachi bhaji.’
Coming home, we took it a step further – going all the way with some Goan par-boiled rice, salmon jirem-miren, fried recheado bombil (Bombay ducks), and some leftovers from my ‘koromb’ – traditional green
mango pickle. And a splash of ‘cashew feni’ for fun!
I decided to break away from the traditional recipe and tweak my cooking a little:
• 1 kg drumstick leaves (approx.)
• 1 medium sized onion
• 1 cup grated coconut
• 5 cloves garlic
• 2 tablespoons masoor (red) dal (soaked)
• 2 green chillies
• Salt to taste
• Water (as needed
• Remove the leaves from the stems and wash well
• Chop finely (I used my handy mini chopper)
• Dice onion, chilly and garlic fine (Again, the mini chopper at work)
• Put all ingredients in a pan and let it cook over low heat. Add salt to taste. (I didn’t add water, but let the steam from the closed pan help). Stir occasionally until well done.
I remember eating drumsticks, leaves and flowers during my childhood – we had a couple of drumstick trees growing around the house in our ancestral home. Avo, my paternal grandfather warned me of the danger of climbing the tree because the branches snapped easily under body weight – so we learnt to use a ‘kelkem’ instead (bamboo pole with a small stick hook at the end to pull down the drumsticks). The flowers with their bitter hit were amongst my favorites, though I can’t see the logic now in losing possible fruit by eating the flowers.
But with city life, it was only rarely that drumsticks found their way into the kitchen. And the ones you tend to find the markets here, are skinny and with a little flesh.
Interestingly, the Moringa plant is beginning to gain popularity as a superfood for its high nutrient levels, and many anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and tissue-protective properties, in addition to other health benefits.
Moringa oleifera is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Moringa, which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae. English common names include: moringa, drumstick tree (from the appearance of the long, slender, triangular seed-pods), horseradish tree (from the taste of the roots, which resembles horseradish), ben oil tree, or benzoil tree (from the oil which is derived from the seeds). It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree, native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India, and widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas where its young seed pods and leaves are used as vegetables. It can also be used for water purification and hand washing, and is sometimes used in herbal medicine. Moringa oleifera, also known as horseradish tree, ben tree, or drumstick tree, is a small tree from India, Pakistan, and Nepal that has been used for generations in Eastern countries to treat and prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, anemia, arthritis, liver disease, and respiratory, skin, and digestive disorders. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moringa_oleifera)