Drumstick sambar(The Moringa oleifera story)

Its amazing how when something is in abundance, you care less for it. And years pass by, when you hardly find it, and you start craving for it, wondering how bad you treated it. Hmm…..sounds like the start of a sentimental ranting? It is kind of, and its about drumsticks, ‘The Moringa oleifera’.

Rewind to a few years back, a few?? ok, a few more years back. A little girl is playing in the street, when her mom comes out of the balcony and yells out her name, and her pet name(my friends know what that is… :D) “evlo neram velayaaduva?” ” how long will you play, come over here and get these drumsticks over to uncle’s house.” (We treated our neighbors like family, and so the whole neighborhood was filled with uncles, aunts and grandmas)

The little girl runs up over the stairs, her school uniform all dirty from playing in the street..

Mom: Why are you playing without even getting out of your school clothes? Now take these drumsticks and give some to downstairs paati(grandma), and some to uncle’s house. Tell them, we had an abundance this year from the tree we have in front of our house.

Girl: Good thing we are giving these out..I am so bored of these. What’s for dinner?

Mom: Drumstick and brinjal sambar and dosa.

Girl: Oh No not again. Can’t you make something else.

Whining and muttering, the little girl, takes the drumsticks and walks down the stairs..out to paati’s house downstairs, chats with them for a while and goes along to uncle’s house. Sitting in the front porch, is uncle’s son. The little girl hates him because he keeps teasing her all the time. Only, slightly older than her, he was the head of the group of the boys in their neighborhood.

Boy: whats that?

Girl: Drumsticks from our house.

Boy in a mocking tone: You yourself look like a drumstick. your mom can make a sambar out of you…Maybe you should eat it, that way you can be strong enough and win the cocoa game. Or are you going to lose again?

Girl gets irritated, takes one of the drumsticks and hits the boy hard on his hand. He yells in pain, and although she didn’t get a good look, she could see the reddish mark the drumstick caused on his arm. The girl drops the drumsticks on the table nearby and runs home. The boy runs behind her yelling: “I will make you pay for this. Wait and see, what I am going to do. You will suffer by the same drumstick.”

The girl realizes she is doomed, she is afraid the boy would complain to her mother. She enters the house and mom is making dosas for thambu(little brother), with the drumstick sambar. She washes up, changes and takes up a plate, dreading the moment when mom was going to ask her about the incident. She quietly eats up the dosa and even the two pieces of drumstick that fell on her plate. She couldn’t tactfully throw the  green little sticks onto her brothers plate as she normally would, nor complain about it and chuck it in the garbage. And slowly chewing her food, she understood what the boy meant. She would never be able to say no drumsticks again.

And over the years, with the incident forgotten, she had learn to savor the green fleshy drumsticks and even developed a liking toward them.

Years later, as she was writing her blog, she reminisces of the incident, and pulls out the frozen drumsticks from the freezer to make a sambar out of it, now complaining to her husband about how you could never get fresh drumsticks where she lived. And how they just don’t taste the same. How times change…….

This story, if this could be called one,  goes to the ‘Of Chalks and Chopsticks – 2nd Edition‘ hosted at ‘A Bong Mom’s cookbook’. This is an event based on food fiction started by Aqua of ‘Served with love’. There is always a story around food. Or rather, any food made with love would definitely have a story around it. What a brilliant idea….It’s something that makes reading food blogs interesting…its the thing that differentiates them from just a bunch of recipes on the web, to living fragments of  peoples lives – their breathing, feeling, cooking and tasting.

Now on, to the said ‘frozen’ drumstick sambar….


1 cup of toor dal

2 whole tomatoes chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 whole onion chopped

1/2 package of frozen drumsticks

few drops of gingelly oil

1 tbsp oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

pinch of asafoetida

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp sambar powder

salt to taste

a golf ball size tamarind

curry leaves


Soak the tamarind in a little bit of warm water, and extract about a 1/2 cup of tamarind water. In a small pressure cooker, take the toor dal, add 1 chopped tomato, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and the garlic cloves. Add enough water and drizzle few drops of gingelly oil over the top. Close and pressure cook for 2 whistles or until cooked until soft.

Meanwhile, in a wide bottomed skillet, heat 1 tbsp canola oil. Add the mustard seeds, let it splutter. Add the asafoetida and the curry leaves. Add the chopped onion and cook until soft. Now add the remaining chopped tomato, turmeric powder and salt. Cook until the tomatoes turn to mush. Thaw the drumsticks in the microwave for 5 minutes. Add them to the onion, tomato mixture. Add enough water to cover the drumsticks. Add the sambar powder. Cover and cook until the vegetable is cooked and tender.

When the drumsticks are well cooked, Add the cooked toor dal and tamarind water. Bring to a boil. Check for seasonings. Serve hot with steaming hot rice and a dollop of ghee.

Verdict: The drumsticks impart a fragrance to the sambar that compares to no other. Although, only a fraction of this fragrance could be obtained with the frozen variety, it reminded me of my hate-love relationship with the vegetable. Loved it!

Pin ItFollow Me on Pinterest


  1. Though I never hit a boy with drumstick, this story is so familiar. Our neighbors had a drumstick tree and we used to be get a fresh bunch every so often. I still do not like them to this day, because my mom would extol on its virtues and make us eat them. I like your story though. I am all for little girls standing up to teasing boys and hitting them with drumsticks or any kind of stick for that matter. 🙂

  2. balaka

    loved your story…and it is so true..when we have something in abundance we take it for granted and years later we crave for that same food…

  3. I love drumsticks, we make a variety with milk – it’s somewhere on my blog. Your story reminded me how the trees are infamous for those fuzzy, itchy caterpillars!

Leave a Reply