Drumstick leaves!

Drumstick – not chicken drumsticks, of course – refers to a vegetable commonly found in tropical countries named so because of its long, slender and triangular shape.  Both the  vegetable and the leaves are used in cooking.  Drumstick leaves are powerhouses of nutrients – significant sources of vitamins, protein, beta carotene and more – and they also have medicinal qualities.  The whole tree – from leaves to seeds to roots – is used in traditional medicine and it was very common to grow this tree in backyards.  I have not seen these leaves in the Indian grocery stores here before so I was quite surprised and happy to find them.  The leaves can be prepared in many different ways … I mostly use them in daal or saute them like spinach.  Before cooking the leaves have to be stripped from the branches – a bit time consuming but well worth the effort.



  • Drumstick leaves – one bag (yields about 3 loosely packed leaves)
  • Moong daal – 1/2 cup
  • Green chillies – 6 (or more or less depending on your spice level)
  • Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
  • Chana dal – 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Curry leaves – few
  • Dried red chillies – 1
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • Coriander powder – 1/4 tsp (optional)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – about 1 tbsp


  1. Boil moong daal with 1 cup of water until they are soft but not mushy
  2. Pick and wash leaves; chop them roughly but that is optional
  3. Heat oil and add mustard seeds; when they splatter add urad dal, chana dal, cumin seeds, red chilli and garlic; fry till it’s aromatic (one thing I love when I cook is the smell of this seasoning which we call popu)
  4. Add leaves along with slit green chillies and curry leaves
  5. Once the leaves soften a bit add boiled moong dal and salt; mix well and cook with the lid on for a few minutes; keep stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom and if the curry looks very dry add a tbsp of water
  6. When the leaves are cooked add coriander powder, mix well and cook for about a minute
  7. Serve with rotis or rice



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