Drumsticks are widely used in Sindhi cuisine, be it in the traditional Sindhi kadhi, or in Seyal bhaji, as Bhughal Singhyun or in tomato gravy. The dried tender drumsticks called Suandhro, finds its place in dry curry or even in Raita (condiment made with yoghurt). Our love for the Moringa oleifera, the drumstick tree, extends beyond its tender seed pods and hence when the fresh drumstick flowers are in season, Sindhis flock to markets to buy the seasonal produce before it disappears within weeks, to cook Swanjhro, drumstick flowers curry.
The fresh flowers or Swanjhro/ swanhjray (Drumsticks) ja (of) Gulah (flowers) could taste bitter if the stems are not removed. Its always good to boil the flowers to get rid of the bitterness. The earthy flavor of cooked flowers when pepped up with freshly crushed black pepper corns and garam masala powder, gives you a hearty rustic dish. Pair it with some Jowar bhakris and there you go, celebrating winters in a way that warms your body and soul !
Its hard to spot the drumstick flowers around our home during winters, so recently when we visited our parent’s home, I was thrilled to find some boiled flowers lying the refrigerator, there. So courtesy to my father who saved my share of boiled flowers and my MIL and FIL who shared one the most fresh and tender lotus stem I have ever cooked, here is one of my most favorite dish, Swanjhro ain Beeh (Drumstick flowers with lotus stem).
- Fresh drumstick flowers, boiled 125 gm*
- Lotus stem 100-150 gm
- Onion 1 medium size
- Tomato 1
- Curd 4 tsp
- Ginger 1'' piece
- Green chillies 2 (or as many preferred)
- Turmeric powder ½ tsp
- Coriander powder 1 heaped tsp
- Garam masala powder ¾ tsp
- Freshly ground black pepper powder ¾ tsp (or less)
- Oil 1tbsp
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
- *Since the flowers were already boiled, I do not have precise weight of fresh flowers before boiling.But thanks to Sangeeta Khanna (of banaras ka khana and healthfood desivideshi, fame), who came to my rescue by letting me know that around 115 gm or so, of fresh flowers might yield 125 gm of boiled flowers.
- While buying flowers,make sure that there are more unopened buds than the open flowers.Remove the tiny hard stems of flowers and leaves if any.
- Soak flowers in water and then boil in an open vessel for 10 minutes or more, till the flowers are tender. This removes the bitterness from flowers. Drain the water and strain the flowers. You can use the drained flowers right away or refrigerate for a day or so.
- Similarly, clean and prepare lotus stem. Here again, thoroughly wash the stem and get rid of the mud. Cut it into ½ inch thick slants.The pores of stem, if still muddy, could be cleaned with tooth picks, or soak them in warm water and hold them under running tap for few seconds to wash away any residual mud. Pressure cook stem pieces with some salt and water for 2-4 whistles of cooker.Depending upon the quality and thickness the cooking time of stem varies. The beeh is supposed to be done when it pass the skewer test. (Pierce a tooth pick or tip of knife, and it should easily slide in). Drain beeh and keep aside.
- Now in a pressure cooker, pour 1 tbsp oil and add chopped onions. Saute till light brown in colour.
- Add chopped tomato, ginger, green chillies, curd and mix well. Cook on high heat .
- Add the drained flowers, salt, turmeric powder and coriander powder. Cook on high heat till all the moisture evaporates and tomatoes are cooked well.
- Finally add cooked beeh, garam masala powder and black pepper powder. Add around ½ cup of warm water and close the lid of pressure cooker.After pressure is released once (one whistle) lower the flame and let the curry cook under pressure, on low flame, for around 10 minutes or so. This curry is generally of a semi dry to dry consistency.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and some more black pepper and serve it with roti or steamed rice. This time I relished it with Juar jo dodo that had loads of fresh garlic added to it.
Also some lotus stem are hard to boil. So add some drops of vegetable oil to hasten the boiling process.