Saturday, June 23, 2007


I probably sound seriously uncool to most people, but I have to admit to a fondness for leafy green vegetables. I love the entire lot of them, from lettuces of different kinds to spinach, mustard/ collard greens, fenugreek leaves, bathua leaves etc. I also love herbs to add interest to a variety of foods, and one of my favourite recipes in the winter is an herb pilaf/ pulao which is of Iranian origin, which I will blog about later.

What I didn't know was used in Bengali cuisine was the leaves of the drumstick tree, clled Sojne ka saag. My maid sometimes makes this vegetable for herself and when I heard about it, I thought, "Hmm, another green leafy to add to my repertoire", and promptly came up with my take on it.

If you have a drumstick tree in your neighbourhood, you can make this tasty, slightly bitter vegetable as an acompaniment to roti and dal, or add the leaves to any dal. It's supposed to be good for blood circulation and thereby the heart.

Recipe for Sojne ka saag

2 cups drumstick leaves

4-5 cloves garlic

1 onion

1 tsp cumin seeds

2-3 green chillies

salt to taste

2 tsp mustard oil

pinch sugar

  1. Wash the leaves and put them in a colander to drain

  2. Julienne the onion and the garlic cloves as fine as possible and chop the green chillies fine

  3. Put the oil on to heat

  4. When it is hot, put in the cumin seeds

  5. When they are toasted, add the green chillies, onion and garlic

  6. Stir occasionally, cooking over medium heat until the onion is turning brown

  7. Add the leaves and stir to mix, then let cook till the greenns are wilted and soft

  8. Remove from heat and add salt and sugar to taste

  9. If you want, you can squeeze lemon juice just before bringing it to table

  10. It's better to eat this in winter as it's supposed to be a 'heaty' vegetable

Some detailed information on the drumstick:

Moringa oleifera is one of the world's most useful plants. The Moringa tree is commonly named for its long bean-like fruit the ”Drumstick Tree”.
It is an extremely fast growing tree, drought tolerant and leaves and pods are of high nutritional value. It is commonly consumed in curries and contributes to a cheap and highly nutritious meal.

Use: leaves (vegetable), pods/drumstick fruit (vegetable), roots (oil), bark (medicine)
Purpose: food and medicinal purpose
Cultivation: requires very little space to thrive does neither need irrigation, nor artificial fertilisers or pesticides produces fruits/vegetable and leaves for more than nine months of the year
Nutritional value of drumstick leaves
Drumstick leaves are full of essential disease-preventing nutrients, they contain:
7 times more Vitamin C than oranges to fight many illnesses including colds and flu
4 times more Vitamin A than carrots against eye disease, skin disease, heart ailments, diarrhoea
4 times more Calcium than milk to build strong bones and teeth
3 times more Potassium than bananas essential for the functioning of the brain and nerves
nearly equal amount of Protein as in eggs `basic building blocks of all our body cells

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