It’s drumstick (সজনে ডাঁটা) season. We put ours in our daily lentils. You peel cut the drumstick into sections, and the tough strings naturally peel off kind of like when you are cutting bean pods. Then you boil them with your lentils. When you eat it, there will be a wad of fiber and strings that you’ll put on the side of your plate. My kids kind of suck the “straw” and then go for the next one. I have been trying to learn about the other ways locals eat this vegetable. Now we don’t have to buy them in the bazaar because our neighborhood is full of these trees and no one can eat them fast enough.

I had a big surprise when reading up on this vegetable, called Moringa, from Wikipedia. Look at this:

“The immature green pods called “drumstick” are probably the most valued and widely used part of the tree. They are commonly consumed in India and are generally prepared in a similar fashion to green beans and have a slight asparagus taste. The seeds are sometimes removed from more mature pods and eaten like peas or roasted like nuts. The flowers are edible when cooked, and are said to taste like mushrooms. The roots are shredded and used as a condiment in the same way as horseradish; however, it contains the alkaloid spirochin,[3] a potentially fatal nerve-paralyzing agent. The presence of this compound is not worrying because large amounts are required to elicit deleterious effects, and spirochin even displays antibacterial properties when consumed in smaller amounts. [4]

The leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium.[5] The leaves are cooked and used like spinach. In addition to being used fresh as a substitute for spinach, its leaves are commonly dried and crushed into a powder, and used in soups and sauces. Murungakai, as it is locally known in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is used in Siddha medicine. The tree is a good source for calcium and phosphorus. In Siddha medicines, these drumstick seeds are used as a sexual virility drug for treating erectile dysfunction in men and also in women for prolonging sexual activity.

Moringa leaves and pods are helpful in increasing breast milk in the breastfeeding months. One tablespoon of leaf powder provide 14% of the protein, 40% of the calcium, 23% of the iron and most of the vitamin A needs of a child aged one to three. Six tablespoons of leaf powder will provide nearly all of the woman’s daily iron and calcium needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The Moringa seeds yield 38–40% edible oil (called ben oil from the high concentration of behenic acid contained in the oil). The refined oil is clear and odorless and resists rancidity at least as well as any other botanical oil. The seed cake remaining after oil extraction may be used as a fertilizer or as a flocculent to purify water.[6] The bark, sap, roots, leaves, seeds, oil, and flowers are used in traditional medicine in several countries. In Jamaica, the sap is used for a blue dye.”