The Amazing Moringa Tree

Moringa is a tree that grows in tropical climates. It’s leaves, flowers and the long drumsticks it produces as fruit are all wonderfully endowed with medicinal and nutritional properties. It is said that the leaves of the Moringa have more vitamin A in them than carrots. I remember the Moringa tree that grew  in the courtyard of our house in suburban Mumbai when we were growing up. Needless to say, I hated the vegetable then! However its medicinal and nutritive value came to mind when I saw the tree in our backyard in Gwalior when my boys were little. I used to throw a handful of leaves into the dal and simmer for a few minutes. The boys never suspected that the green stuff they were eating in their dal were those of the innocuous Moringa. Recently a friend sent me a great quantity of drumsticks. I looked at it in dismay wondering how to use it all. I remembered that my neighbour Kiran had lived in Kerala for a few years and perhaps could find some use for it. I divided the vegetable equally and took one bunch to her. She was delighted and thanked me profusely. An hour or two later she was at my doorstep with a steaming pot full of aromatic orange liquid. “Try this” she said. “Its ‘Drumstick Soup.”  I took a spoonful, cautiously sipping at the hot liquid. It was delicious, to say the least. After she left I found myself savouring a mug-full of Kiran’s drumstick soup.

My half of the drumsticks remained in the fridge for a few days. I asked Kiran the recipe for the soup and we soon had a potful of more drumstick soup. Amazingly one doesn’t tire of drinking this soup more than once or twice. Try it sometime, it is not only very easy to make but very very palatable indeed. (besides being good for you)

Drumstick Soup
Take a quarter kilo of drumsticks, wash, peel and chop into four inch pieces. (If the drumsticks are fresh don’t bother to peel them) Take a pressure cooker or soup pot and put the drumsticks into it along with four tomatoes, salt and peppercorns. Add a litre of water. Cook until the drumsticks are tender. (In a cooker for ten minutes after the first whistle) Drain and mash the contents through a strainer. Boil the resultant liquid for a few minutes. At this stage you could add green chillies if you like the heat, I did. Add more pepper if you need to. If you like your soup thick you may thicken it with cornflour or flour. I didn’t.

Rajyasree Sen contributes a Bengali recipe: There’s one very simple recipe for Sajne Daatar Chorchori or Veggies with drumsticks:  Heat some mustard oil in a karai, add a teaspoon of panch phoron, let it crackle a little bit. When it stops crackling, add sliced potatoes and parwal (an equal amount and they should be cut in a similar shape). Sautee for five minutes. Then add around a handful of drumsticks (6-8), which the strings have been removed from and have been cut into two inch pieces. Add salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then add 1/2 tbsp haldi, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp dhania powder, 1/2 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp mustard paste. and stir. (Ideally, you should put all the masalas into a bowl and add some water and make a paste of it and then pour into the pan). Then add approximately 250 gms of chopped pumpkin. Stir and cover, for around 10 minutes. Then add half a cup of water and simmer till the veggies are coooked through. There shouldn’t be any gravy as such in the pan.
Use a mix of yellow mustard seeds and black mustard seeds while making the mustard paste, or it will be too strong. Also, when grinding the paste, add a chili, that will cut the bitterness.

Khus Slush
Beat the heat is the catch phrase this summer and what better way to do it than this!

Take some Khus Syrup (readily available in the market) Pour an inch of it into a glass. Fill with milk, stir and place in your freezer for an hour or until the liquid has partially turned to ice. Take a spoon and crush it further as you eat & drink it!

Vinny

a trained singer and an excellent cook. She has been cooking at home for the last 32 years and is now a restauranteur. An Army officer's wife, she has travelled the length and breadth of India and has been exposed to many of the numerous variations of Indian cuisine. She likes to experiment and is particularly fond of breakfast food and meats.