Tempered Yogurt With Tomatoes, DrumSticks and DrumStick Leaves / Muringa Ella Morru Curry

Onam is around the corner!!!  Yes, it’s a festival of Kerala (South India) that each Malayali takes pride in and celebrate it where ever they are.  Last year we had a family Onam Sadhya (feast) hosted at our house.  We dressed up in Kerala attire and had our vegetarian feast on banana leaves (of course the fake one). If we had planned ahead, we could have got hold of some fresh banana leaves.  Oh well, it really doesn't matter, all that matters is the fun you have when you feast together as a family or with friends. 

When I spotted the fresh drumstick and drum stick leaves at the Indian store the other day, I don't know what my emotion was.  It’s hard to explain, I am pretty sure that my face was blushing due to excitement when I confirmed that it was drum stick leaves with the store manager.  The next thing in my mind was to cook up something with it.  The specialty of Malayalis is that they can make anything and everything with a vegetable.  Just name a vegetable and you can come up with tons of recipes with that.  If you are a Malayali, you know exactly what I meant.  So with this in my mind I called up my Mom to get the recipe with 'Muringa Ella' and reminded her of the small ziplock bag of leaves I got from the store.  She recommended this curry and I still had the taste of this curry lingering in my mouth from last India visit.  So all I had to do was to recreate the traditional Keralite taste which was apt for the Onam post. 

1 - onion sliced
2 cloves - garlic sliced
1 tsp - chopped ginger root
3 - green chili splits
3 - medium tomatoes cubed
1/2 tsp. - turmeric powder
10 - pieces of drumsticks
2 tbsp. - oil
salt to taste

To grind
1/2 cup - grated coconut
1/4 tsp. - turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. - cumin seeds/jeera
2 - small shallots sliced
1/3 cup - water

 For Tempering/Tadka
1/2 tsp. - black mustard seeds
2 - dry red chili
1/4 tsp. - roasted cumin/jerra powder
1/4 tsp. - roasted fenugreek/methi seeds powder
1 tbsp. - thinly sliced shallots
1 cup - tightly packed clean drumstick leaves
1 sprig - curry leaves
1 tbsp. - oil
2 cups - thick yogurt

  • In a non stick or heavy bottom sauce pan heat 2 tbsp. of oil and add the onions, green chilies, garlic, ginger and turmeric powder.  Sauté for 1 minute.  Add the drumsticks, mix well, cover and cook for 5 - 6 minutes on low to medium heat.  Open the lid and add cubed tomatoes and mix well.  Lower the flame and cook for another 5 minutes or till the drumstick is well cooked, but still have the shape.  Turn off the burner.
  • While the drumstick is cooking you can grind all the ingredients from the list into a smooth paste.
  • Add the ground mix to the cooked drumstick mix.  Add additional 1/4 cup water if needed and let the mix come to boil and cook for another minute and turn off the flame.
  • Use the same blender jar and add the 2 cups of yogurt and blend it; pour into the cooked drumstick mix and stir well.  Make sure that the flame is turned off at this step.
  • Prepare the tadka by heating 1 tbsp. oil in a non stick pan and splutter the mustard seeds.  Then add sliced shallots.  Once the shallots starts to turn golden brown, add cumin/jeera powder, fenugreek powder, dry chili.  Lower the flame and add the curry leaves and drumstick leaves.  Mix well. Turn off the flame.
  • Pour the tadka over the spiced yogurt curry.
  • Enjoy it with steamed Kerala brown rice.
  • You can make this curry even without drumstick and drumstick leaves, it will be the tomato yogurt curry.
  • Make sure that you turn off the stove before you add the blended yogurt, otherwise it will curdle.

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