MMC Ingredient 6 is Murungaikai (Moringa Pods).
Murungaikai is readily available in South India and both the vegetable and the leaves are used in cooking. Most common way to use murungaikai is in sambar, along with small onions. Leaves can be used in poriyal or subji with a bit of dal and spiced with chilies and coconut. I never realized how much I'd miss murungaikai until I came to the US and couldn't find any fresh ones worth its name in the store. For those of you who have no clue what am talking about, take a look at this wiki entry for Moringa/murungaikai.
I personally think this ingredient is one of the more challenging ones since as far as I know, I have seen murungaikai used only in South India. My mom uses murungaikai but it is restricted to sambar for the most part, especially the Sunday special lunch which usually consisted of murungaikai/small onion sambar, potato curry and vadam/papad. Given the limited usage of murungaikai I have come across, I had to squeeze my brains a bit harder to make something that's interesting and not a sambar !!
I did finally come up with not one but two dishes. I was unable to choose between the two and hence I give you both my creations. The first dish is a pickle which is very easy to make but needs a bit of patience - it has to marinate for 2-4 days for best results. The other dish is a salad, an apt summer dish. It does not involve much cooking and is pretty easy to put together.
- I used frozen murungaikai which is readily available in Indian stores. Fresh ones can be used as well and am sure they'll taste much better.
- Cook murungaikai until soft and splits open readily but should still hold its shape and not be mushy.
- The edible part of murungaikai is the seeds and the pulp. Split open murungaikai and scoop out the pulp and seeds to eat.
- Roasted fenugreek powder: Dry roast a 2 tsp of fenugreek in a pan until its brown and aromatic. Let cool, grind to a smooth powder. Store the excess powder in the refrigerator.
Murungaikai Urugai (Moringa Pod Pickle)
11/2 cup drumstick (murungakai)
1/4 cup carrots, blanched, 1/2" sticks (optional, see notes)
2 green chilies, split open
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp roasted fenugreek powder (see notes)
2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp mustard
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tbsp canola oil
salt to taste
- Boil water in a large pot. Add enough salt.
- Drop the frozen murungaikai in boiling water and let it cook (for about 15-20 min). After 15 min check for "done"ness. If using fresh ones, cooking time may vary.
- Blanch carrots similarly in boiling water. Cook for 10 min or so. Check for doneness. Cook just to take the raw edge off. Carrots should still remain crisp.
- Drain and pat dry carrots and murungaikai pieces.
- In a saute pan, heat canola oil. When its hot, add mustard seed. Let it splutter.
- Remove from heat. Now add turmeric, chili powder, green chilies.
- Stir once. Now add the cooked murungaikai and carrot pieces. Add fenugreek powder. Stir.
- Add salt and the seasme seed oil. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Transfer it to a dry container (glass bottle is preferable). Close tight and let it stand for a day at room temperature.
- On the 2nd day, move it to the refrigerator. Let it stand for a day or two longer.
- You can use it as early as the 3rd day but as with any pickle the longer it stands the better it tastes.
- Pickle can be stored in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.
Murungaikai (Moringa Pod) Salad
16 oz frozen drumstick/murungaikai
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp finely chopped tomatoes (seeded)
1-2 small green chili, finely chopped
1 tsp dessicated or frozen coconut (optional)
2-3 tsp lime juice
1 tsp olive/vegetable oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
4 curry leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
- Cook murungaikai as done for the pickles (step 2 of murungaikai pickle).
- Split open the murungaikai pieces. Scoop out the pulp and seeds. Set aside.
- In a salad bowl mix onions, tomatoes and green chilies. Mix well. Now add murungaikai pulp. Mix lightly.
- In a small saute pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds. Let it splutter. Add the curry leaves.
- Add this to the veggie mixture. Season with salt.
- Add lime juice and coconut.
- Mix well.