Drumstick leaf dal (sambar) 2

Drumsticks – I love them and cook a lot with them. In fact if you ask me what my favourite huli or sambar is, it’s without a doubt drumstick huli. I rarely cook with the leaves and flowers though. I had used the flowers a few times in Calcutta to make fritters, and they taste really good. But the first time I cooked with the drumstick leaves was here in Melbourne. On our regular trip to the farmers market, my husband found the drumstick leaves and was delighted ‘Sojne Paata’. You guessed the rest!

Drumstick leaves or Moringa leaves is very nutritious – Time Magazine named it a superfood.  “A small serving of the humble-looking moringa’s tiny leaves has seven times the amount of vitamin C of an orange, four times the calcium of milk, and four times the beta-carotene of carrots … But undoubtedly the most amazing quality of the moringa is that it can purify water” – Times Magazine.
I cooked drumstick leaves with lentils the same way I cook other greens like fenugreek leaves, amaranth or palak. Toor dal, freshly ground spices and greens – so healthy. I also add some brown chickpeas when I make this dal. But here I replaced it with black eyed peas (you may use either of them or skip it altogether). I normally don’t add onion and garlic to dals, but if I make them with greens, it’s a must – lifts to taste so much. Trust me it’s absolutely amazing. A whole bowl was gone in minutes and now this soul satisfying dish is a regular in our kitchen.

drumstick leaf dal



Drumstick leaves – 2 cups
Pigeon pea lentil – 1 cup
Black eyed peas – ¼ cup (you may replace it with brown chickpeas or skip it)
Onion – 1 medium, half diced and half thinly sliced
Garlic – 1-2 cloves, thinly sliced
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Jaggery – 1 small cube
Tamarind – a small ball or 1 tsp tamarind paste
Salt – to taste
Clarified butter – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – 7-8
Dry red chilli – 1
Asafoetida or hing – a pinch

To grind together:
Grated coconut – ¼ cup
Dry red chilli – 5-6 or as per taste
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – a few
Black gram lentil or urad dal – 1 tsp
Bengal gram lentil or chana dal – ½ tsp


  1. Soak the black eyed peas for 2-3 hours
  2. Wash the pigeon pea lentil. Boil the lentil and soaked black eyed peas with water, turmeric and a few drops of oil until it gets tender
  3. Wash the drumstick leaves and remove the thick stems
  4. Soak the tamarid in water for few minutes. Extract the water and set aside
  5. When the lentil is almost done, add the leaves, diced onion, salt and cook completely
  6. In a frying pan, dry roast all the grinding ingredients except coconut until it is aromatic (few minutes)
  7. Grind the roasted spices and coconut with some water to make a smooth paste
  8. Once the lentil is completely boiled, add the ground paste, jaggery, tamarind water and boil. Simmer for 10 minutes
  9. Meanwhile, make the temper. Heat another frying pan and add clarified butter or ghee. Add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add curry leaves, dry red chilli and hing. Add garlic slices and fry for a minute. Add the sliced onion and fry until it is cooked. Turn off the heat
  10. Add the tempering to the cooked lentils and turn off the heat
  11. Serve hot with steamed rice


  • You may pressure cook the lentil to save time
  • You may use any greens to make this dal. They taste great with fenugreek leaves too
  • This lentil is usually made thicker than the regular sambar. You may adjust the consistency as per preference