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Moringa, aka Drumstick

Wholemeal Crank

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A colleague at work yesterday was telling us about the drumstick plant, something that is apparently in every kitchen garden in Kerala, where he is from. A little googling revealed a picture of a vegetable I didn't recall ever seeing in the Indian groceries I've shopped in, and it's strange enough that I think I would have noticed it.

Wikipedia has a good picture and basic description of Moringa oleifera here.

Apparently the leaves, stem, flowers and fruit are all edible.

Does anyone know if this is grown or imported into the US?

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It's been about 8 years since I lived in the US, and while I think I bought fresh pods while there, I may be remembering wrongly.

However, a little googling brought references to people buying both fresh pods and leaves in shops catering to Indians and Filipinos in Los Angeles. Try asking in the stores - if something is imported in quite small quantities, they might bring it in just once a week, and then sell out in the first two or three days. This was definitely the case with a few of the Indian vegetables when I was living in the US.

I also found references to the pods being available canned and frozen. I have never tried canned, so can give no opinion. Howefer, I have tried frozen once and was most unimpressed with the taste and quality - though I may just have been unlucky.

If you can buy the leaves, do so! These are my favourite greens, and I was disconsolate when my local supply dried up for about a year here in Berlin. Cook them as soon as you can after purchase. That said, I've found they will last for about three days if well sealed in a plastic bag. However, the taste is of course better when freshest.

If you find anywhere selling the flowers (they are popular with Thais, and might possibly be for sale if you have any Asian grocery aiming specifically at a Thai clientele) be aware that they are VERY bitter. I've tried various ways of preparing them, but not found any way I like, even though I'm the type who happily chows down on bitter melon.

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Thanks for the info, and the warnings on the flowers !

The friend who was describing this says he's never seen any part of it for sale in the US, but I don't know how hard he's tried. Los Angeles is a big place....

I'll keep my eyes open. I'm just curious after hearing his descriptions, but I'd love to find a reliable source as a gift to my friend.

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Occasionally I've seen them for sale at the Berkeley Bowl market. They are sold in the fresh produce section. The supply is erratic. I ate them years ago in an Indian roasted veg stew (somebody else did the cooking). If I remember correctly, they have a mild taste, and they reminded me of artichokes. I've never checked out the ethnic markets here for the vegetable, because I've never been sufficiently motivated.

However, if they're grown somewhere in this state, and the Bowl is getting them fresh, there's no doubt in my mind that you could find them in your neck of the woods, probably in an ethnic market. good luck!

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I'm an idiot - it was agathi flowers I was thinking of when I wrote about bitterness.

However, the comment about the leaves being delicious was indeed referring to drumstick leaves, not agathi leaves - which don't really do much for me.

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Greetings: I've been an eg member for some years, but post very very rarely: life gets in the way :) But from time to time I wander in. In real life I wander among the US, India, East Africa, and wherever else life floats my balloon.

Moringa in India: a very common vegetable in Southern India, almost unknown in the North. The pods and leaves are used. It's very very tasty and very nutritious. It's promoted by nutrition activists, especially for pregnant women at risk of anemia. They try to grow the tree more widely, also in East Africa.

Moringa in the US: you can get the pods fresh or frozen (former is less common). The frozen ones are not bad at all. Recall that these vegetables are cooked, they're not really edible raw. I've not seen the leaves available in groceries in my area of the US; maybe in bigger cities? The leaves are not bitter (bitter ones are neem / agathi) but very neutral tasting.

To cook: pods and leaves most common in typical Southern home cooking like in sambar, godju, moar-kozhambu, etc. (These are Tamil names, other regional languages have other names for comparable dishes). You cut the pod into one inch long (approx) pieces and cook till done.

To eat: while eating, you scrape out the inside and discard the stringy and tough outer coating (the comparison to artichokes is very apt). This vegetable shows you why you eat Indian food with your fingers - no eating tool invented could handle this item :)


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To cook: ....You cut the pod into one inch long (approx) pieces and cook till done.

To eat: while eating, you scrape out the inside and discard the stringy and tough outer coating (the comparison to artichokes is very apt).

Thinking here of celery and artichokes, where cutting them shorter--1/4 inch, say--can eliminate the need to peel: if you cut them very short, do they still need to be scooped or peeled?

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Thinking here of celery and artichokes, where cutting them shorter--1/4 inch, say--can eliminate the need to peel: if you cut them very short, do they still need to be scooped or peeled?

I have eaten them cut very short, and you still have to scoop and eat. The outer pod is a distinct structure and its very 'protective' of the delicate interior. It's not at all like celery where there is no exterior vs interior.

If you overcook moringa to try and make the outside soft, the insides will totally disintegrate and the whole thing will be inedible.

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I've found both the drumstick and the leaves for sale here in the Bay Area. I've gotten the leaves from farmers' markets and 99 Ranch and the pod from farmers' markets and Berkeley Bowl. Oddly, I haven't noticed fresh at the Indain groceries, though they generally carry the frozen.

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