Drumsticks in the West conjure up images of chicken or turkey legs. In India, drumsticks refer to the fruit of the Moringa tree. These almost stick like vegetables would be cut into 2 inch segments and used typically in sambar. The vegetable cannot be swallowed, it has to be chewed and the remaining fiber has to be discarded. Moringa leaves are now considered to be a health food in the US and you can find a number of articles on the Web touting its benefits, especially as a natural source of multi-vitamins. We didn’t know this, we just loved the “dangars” or fritters that my mother made. The leaves could also be used to make a pancake using the same batter as the “Sannapolo“. Our family friends, the Raos in Florida have a Moringa tree in their garden and they sent us a care package with drumsticks and leaves recently. Since Rajesh loves the “dangars”, I made some over the weekend, here is the recipe! If you prefer not to deep fry the fritters, you can use the batter to make pancakes by cooking them over a griddle.
- Rice - 1 cup
- Chana Daal - 1 cup
- Grated Coconut - 1 cup
- Roasted red chillies(preferably Byadgi chillies) - 10-12(more or less depending on your taste)
- Asafoetida powder (Hing) - 1/4 tsp
- Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
- Tamarind paste - 1 tsp
- Oil - very little
- Salt to taste
- Drumstick leaves - 1 cup, roughly chopped
- Onions - 1 small, finely chopped (optional)
- Oil - for deep frying
Soak the rice and chana daal for an hour or so.
In a pan, heat very little oil and roast the red chillies till fragrant. Set aside.
Blend the grated coconut, roasted red chillies, turmeric powder, tamarind paste and asafoetida powder to a very smooth paste.
Add the soaked rice and chana daal and blend some more. See to it that the rice and daal remain coarse, not finely ground.
Pour the blended batter into a vessel and add the chopped drumstick leaves and onions, if using. Add salt to taste and mix well.
Heat oil in a deep pan for deep frying. When the oil is hot, turn the heat down to a medium flame, take a tablespoon of the batter, make balls, flatten them (like patties) and drop in the hot oil carefully. Let it turn golden brown and when done, turn the flattened patties over and cook till crispy and done.
Serve hot either as an appetizer or these can also be served as a side dish with rice and Daalithoi (Konkani Daal).
Do not add a lot of water while blending, the mixture should not be too watery, else it will absorb oil when deep fried. The rice and daal have to be ground coarsely, do not blend it too fine. I used finely chopped onions when I made this dish, its optional. The drumstick leaves can be chopped roughly, it is not necessary to chop them fine. The fritters need to be fried on medium heat for them to cook uniformly. On high heat, they cook quickly on the outside and stay raw inside. If you want to avoid deep frying, using the same mixture, you can make sanna polos or pancakes. Heat a griddle and brush some oil on it. Drop a ladle of the mixture on to the hot griddle and spread it in a circular shape using the back of a spoon. The cooking time varies depending on how thick or thin you have spread the mixture. Once its turned brown on one side, flip the pancake over and let the other side cook as well. This can be served with fresh butter.