At my ancestral home, we had a big murungai tree that would blossom after the monsoon season. I never cared much for ours then - my eyes were always set on the mango trees. It was an old and a most stubborn tree that would only blossom periodically. One day, along with some garden work and for whatever reason, we cut down the twigs and branches of that tree. Even though I had never cared much for it, I was saddened to see the state of that beautiful tree. It was only then that I realized its value. I missed the fragrant white flowers that we would inhale. I missed the shadow that we would take refuge in. And most of all, I missed the sight of these green, thin drumsticks that we would desperately try to fetch by jumping up and down with a long stick.
The murungai or moringa tree, is sometimes also referred to as the miracle tree and almost all parts of the moringa oleifera tree has some valuable usage. In cooking however, the long, immature green drumsticks and the highly nutritious leaves are most commonly used to prepare a wide range of dishes in South Asia and South East Asia. Various parts of the tree is also used for water purification and in alternative medicine. From what I know, only immature drumsticks are used in cooking. The mature drumsticks are very bitter in taste and are therefore not used in cooking. The cooked drumsticks are eaten almost the same way cooked artichoke leaves are eaten. You drag the flesh away with your teeth. Even though eating drumsticks can be a hasslesome affair but nobody I know can withstand drumstick curry. It is really that delicious.
And for those of you who are wondering what happened to the murungai kai tree. It did grow back. I told you... it was a stubborn tree. ;)
1 1/2 tbs coconut oil
2 green chilis
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 fennel seeds
1 tbs curry powder
2 tbs thick tamarind paste (adjust)
2-3 tbs coconut cream
2 sprigs curry leaves
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cups water (or enough to cook)
Rinse and scrub the drumsticks. Peel the rough green exterior. Cut the drumstick in half, lengthwise. Then cut them into smaller pieces, about 2-3 inches. Finely chop the onion and cut the green chilis, lengthwise or into smaller pieces. In a pan, heat 1 1/2 tbs of oil at medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds and allow to splutter. Add the onion, curry leaves and green chilis and saute until the onion is translucent and the curry leaves are fragrant. Then add the drumsticks and fry for 2-3 more minutes. Now add the curry powder and fry for one more minute and then add the water. Put the lid on, lower the heat and allow the drumsticks to cook. This may take about 30 minutes or longer. Stir well and allow to cook (until desired level of graviness). Lastly add the tamarind paste and coconut cream and stir well. Taste and adjust spices if necessary before taking away from the stove.