Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tomato Coconut Drumstick Curry

Lucky me! I was about to walk out of the Indian grocery store when I saw a beautiful sight - a gorgeous pile of drumstick (botanical name: Moringa Oliefera) My Indian friends call them -Munaga Kaaya). They were absolutely fresh and long- possibly the longest drumsticks I have ever  come across! I grew up eating drumstick in Malaysia. My artichoke before I knew about artichoke.

Drumstick is the seed pod of a tropical tree. The seed pod are long. Some of  the pods I purchased this time were over long as 3ft!! Longer, than any I have ever seen in Malaysia. The vendor tells me in India, they have even longer drumsticks. The pods have a triangle cross section, splits open to 3 sections with a pulpy interior with winged seeds. When cooked, you scrap the delicious pulp against your teeth like an artichoke leaf, discard the hard outer skin. I remember a rented house we lived in for awhile, where the landlord would come each month to harvest the drumstick and collect the rent. You know me - at this point, I am not just thinking about eating the drumsticks but growing them!! A healthy bundle of drumstick followed me home............

Normally, I would cook the drumstick in a sambar/ dhall type curry. I decided I wanted to try something a little different. I remembered a tomato based drumstick curry I used to eat in Malaysia. A quick harvest of curry leaves from my garden, tomatoes purchased from the Farmers Market a few days ago and frozen grated fresh coconut from the freezer and I was on my way. I served it with Basmati Pilaf

1 tablespoon canola/olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
4 sprigs curry leaves
1 onion sliced thinly
2 garlic pips, coarsely minced

2 cups diced tomatoes ( 3 large tomatoes, diced)
1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 dried chili pods
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt ( or according to taste)

To be blended together to form a paste
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 inch ginger root
4 garlic pips
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro

6 Drumstick -  cut into 2 inch pieces, between the seeds

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a saucepan. Add the curry leaves, cumin and mustard seed. When the seeds start to pop, add the chopped garlic and sliced onion and saute for a few minutes until onions are soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Cover and cook until the tomatoes are pulpy and releases it juices, approximately 5-6 minutes.

Add drumstick pieces to pan. Stir in coconut / herb paste, mix well. Add in turmeric, dried chili pods and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for a start. Pour in 1 cup of water or quantity that will make a nice amount of gravy, just covering drumstick pieces.


  1. I have never heard of drumstick plant. Your recipe looks very delicious. I wonder if I have eaten it before at a local mamak/indian restaurant. Incidentally, the Star just had an article about this plant on Friday, the link is here:

  2. Thank you Autumn Belle for the link in the Star paper. I do not know where in Klang you live, but I remember seeing the drumstick plant at the padang behind the Teluk Pulai Bah Kut Teh shops, where the Pohpiah men used to park his cart. It is also outside houses along the Tuesday night pasar malam for Teluk Pulai. Also along Banting road. Look outside Indian houses - it looks like a little like the Peacock Tree with long pods hanging down from it.