Indian recipes know how to make one of the most basic, humble ingredients — lentils — shine. I mean, look at dal makhani or dal tadka! Both dishes, amongst many more, are beloved worldwide. On the other hand, this drumstick dal is a regional Maharashtrian dish that doesn’t feature on restaurant menus or have a substantial online presence. However, in every Maharashtrian household, drumstick dal, known as shevgyachya shenganchi amti, is a staple dish the whole family enjoys.
That’s why this dish is close to my heart. I feel eternally grateful to have the opportunity in this lifetime to taste many dishes outside my birth culture, which, despite being remarkably mouth-watering, aren’t public knowledge.
There’s a reason I love this dish so much: the base of warming, comforting, and robust lentils makes an excellent source of affordable, cheap, plant-based protein. But that’s not all.
Far from a standard lentil soup, this Indian dal tastes unbelievable, thanks to layers of spicing: zesty curry leaves, fiery chilis with a fruity kick, the punch of asafoetida, and the earthy touch of turmeric elevates the unassuming lentils to new heights.
Adding to the mix is the addition of drumsticks, a powerhouse vegetable that balances the heartiness of the lentils with its refreshingly bright flavor. The maple syrup-like sweetness of raw jaggery, plus a squeeze of lemon juice, finish off the sweet-sour flavor notes of this amti. Amti is a variety of dal with a distinctive tangy, sour taste, so throughout this recipe, I’ll refer to the dish as “shevgyachya shenganchi amti” (amti of drumsticks), “drumstick dal,” or “moringa dal.” All three recipe titles are correct and refer to the same meal.
If you’re a fan of undiscovered Indian food gems, a Maharashtrian wanting to capture the nostalgic taste of home cooking or need a new vegan meal to add to your rooster, this recipe is for you! Shall we get into it?
What is Drumstick Amti (Shevgyachya Shenganchi Amti)
Indian drumstick dal/amti (or as it’s called in Marathi, shevgyachya shenganchi amti) is a tangy, earthy, and spicy Indian lentil soup with fresh green drumsticks (moringa pods).
The dal drumstick recipe is full of plant-based protein, vital nutrients, and vitamins. Since it’s so comforting and nourishing, dal has always been one of my comfort foods, and alongside the classic dal tadka, this Maharashtrian recipe is top of the list.
In Marathi, “amti” refers to any dish with a watery gravy, whether a curry or dal, that contains an acidic element. Furthermore, “shevgyachya shenga” is just the word for drumsticks, or as we know it in English, moringa pods!
What are Moringa Pods (Drumsticks)?
When you hear “drumsticks,” your mind might instantly think of chicken drumsticks. But on a vegetarian blog, the only chicken drumsticks you’ll find are the seitan variety!
So, what are drumsticks? Also known by the name moringa (from the Tamil “murungai,” meaning twisted pods), these are the long, slender seedpods from the moringa oleifera, a fast-growing tree native to the Indian subcontinent.
Most likely, the name “drumsticks” originated from the pod shape, which is thin, ridged, and commonly around 70cm long, resembling sticks you use to beat drums!
In Indian cooking, people also favor the leaves of the drumstick tree, not just the pods. Both the pods and leaves boast many nutritional benefits, and moringa is now recognized in the West as a superfood.
According to Healthline, although slightly less nutritious than the leaves, moringa pods are rich in numerous vital nutrients and vitamins, including exceedingly high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants, which can help promote heart health.
Maharashtrian Drumstick Dal Ingredients
This drumstick dal curry is loaded with authentic Maharashtrian flavors. The ingredients list is quite long, but don’t be overwhelmed — if you have a few essential spices in your pantry and some basic pantry staples, you’ve got this list covered!
Read on to find out how each ingredient enriches the shevgyachya shenganchi amti, or scroll to the recipe card for exact quantities.
What You Need to Make Shevgyachya Shenganchi Amti
- Toor dal, otherwise known as pigeon pea lentils, arhar, or turvar dal, has a mild and nutty flavor. It’s the most commonly used pulse in India, and I also make vegetable sambar and dal tadka from the lentil. Don’t swap toor dal for other lentils — cooking times and flavors will vary.
- Water for pressure cooking the dal and drumsticks, plus adjusting the consistency of the amti.
- Turmeric powder adds vibrancy, plus a robust earthy and musky flavor to this drumstick dal curry.
- Drumsticks are what makes this Maharashtrian recipe unique! The taste is refreshingly vibrant, green, mild, and slightly grassy.
- Neutral oil is a flavor carrier for all the complex layers of spice in this Maharashtrian-style drumstick dal.
- White onion adds a spicy pungency but also subtle sweetness.
- Asafoetida is warming and comforting, adding a beautiful garlicky flavor to the dal. It also helps to digest the lentils!
- Black mustard seeds add a bitter heat to every bite.
- Cumin seeds bring a warming, nutty, and savory complexity to the drumstick dal.
- Curry leaves are zesty and aroma, with a complex, unmissable flavor.
- Garlic lends its creamy sweetness, blending perfectly with the gentle flavor of the toor dal.
- Tomato is for a nuanced level of tangy sourness. You can also use kokum, tamarind, or lemon juice here.
- Coriander powder imparts a mild lemony sweetness.
- Red chili powder warms the whole dish with an earthy, fruity, fiery heat.
- Jaggery adds a pleasant caramelized sweetness to the lentils.
- Goda masala is a unique Marathi spice blend that’s smoky and sweet. It’s a must-add to this dish, although you can use garam masala in a pinch.
- Fresh coriander lifts the recipe with a zesty brightness.
- Dried red chilis added to the tempering (tadka) provide a surprising extra layer of spice!
Drumstick Dal Allergens
As if this recipe wasn’t already tempting enough, it’s suitable for most people with dietary needs and requirements.
Drumstick dal is a naturally vegan and dairy-free dish and a great way to incorporate more pulses into your diet. If you’re looking for more lentil recipes or want to know more about lentils, I have a guide to lentils, pulses, and beans here.
Furthermore, drumstick amti is nut-free and soy-free!
My recipe contains asafoetida, which is a naturally gluten-free product. However, many commercial versions of the spice are mixed with gluten, so if you have an intolerance or allergy, please read the ingredients carefully. Alternatively, you can buy gluten-free asafoetida, making this drumstick amti gluten-free.
Finally, I know some of my readers suffer from tomato intolerance. Luckily, you can easily substitute tomatoes with a small amount of tamarind, kokum, or lemon juice to replace the acidic element.
How to Prepare Drumstick Dal
- Pressure cook the lentils for around six whistles. Let the pressure release, and then whisk the dal thoroughly with a dal ravi/ghotni.
- While the lentils cook, make the drumstick curry by heating oil, then cook the mustard and cumin seeds until they pop. Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, salt, and dried spices. Stir until the oil separates, then add your drumsticks in 2-3 inch pieces. Add water and cook until the drumsticks are soft.
- Add the cooked dal to the curry along with jaggery and goda masala. Stir and simmer until the dal reaches your desired consistency (I prefer it thicker to serve with poli/chapati and thinner for rice).
- Temper the dal by heating oil in a tadka pan, then adding dried red chilis, curry leaves, asafoetida, and chili powder. Stir through the hot dal and serve.
I love to garnish my drumstick dal with plenty of chopped fresh coriander for a zesty burst of freshness and an extra squeeze of lemon juice to increase the tangy flavor notes!
How to Eat Drumsticks (Moringa Pods)
When I first ate drumstick dal in Maharashtrian style, I was unsure how to eat the moringa pods. If you’re Indian, you likely already know how to eat them — but for foreigners, it can be a confusing task far from second nature!
You want to use your teeth to scrape out the soft green flesh inside the skin. Bear in mind you can also eat the seeds — they’re extra juicy! Alternatively, if you prefer, you can also suck the flesh out of the shevgyachya shenga. Once you’ve eaten the insides, discard the remaining skin on the side of your plate.
For first-timers, it’s a messy but rewarding experience! And remember, Indian food always tastes best eaten with your (right) hand. It’s culturally appropriate, and once you get the hang of it, eating with your hands does improve the experience.
What to Serve with Shevgyachya Shenganchi Amti
- Maharashtrian drumstick dal with rice is the easiest option. Pressure-cook rice alongside the dal in stackable pots or boil it separately. I love eating the highly aromatic Maharashtrian ambe mohar rice with drumstick dal, but sona masoori is also tempting! If you don’t have access to many rice varieties, opt for a fragrant medium or long-grain type.
- Shevgyachya shenganchi amti with bhakri is perhaps the most traditional of all. Bhakri is a rustic, whole-grain flatbread mostly eaten in rural areas that tastes mouthwateringly good with drumstick dal. I like serving jwarichi bhakri (jowar bhakri) made from sorghum or bajarichi bhakri (bajra bhakri) made from pearl millet.
- Drumstick dal curry with chapati, also called poli in Marathi or roti in Hindi, is my favorite way to eat this meal. Mopping up the hearty, spicy lentils with a soft piece of chapati is heavenly!
As you can see, there are considerable options to serve alongside this nourishing bowl of lentils! However, that’s just the traditional choices — if you want to experiment, why not swap out white rice for quinoa, wild rice, millet, or cauliflower rice?
Plus, there’s no reason you can’t serve this meal with a fluffy garlic and coriander naan, either.
Or, if you want to have a light lunch, eat it with a spoon and a side salad — this Maharashtrian methi gholana, a vibrant fenugreek salad, is the ultimate pick. Honestly, drumstick dal tastes incredible with anything!
This Recipe Is:
- Authentic Maharashtrian food
- Vegan, nut-free, soy-free
- Easily made gluten-free
- Homely, comforting, nourishing
- Easy to cook
To Cook the Dal
- 150g Toor Dal (Split Pigieon Pea Lentils, or Arhar Dal)
- 400ml Water
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric
- 2 Medium Drumsticks
To Make the Drumstick Dal
- 3 tbsp Oil
- 1 Medium Onion (50g), finely chopped
- 1 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
- 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 5 Garlic Cloves
- 20g Tomato, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
- 1/2 tsp Red Chili Powder
- 2 Drumsticks, cut into 2" pieces
- 600ml Water
- 1 tbsp Grated Jaggery
- 1/2 tsp Goda Masala*
- Fresh Coriander, to serve
- Fresh Lemon, to serve
For the Tempering
- 1 tsp Neutral Oil
- 4 Dried Red Chilis
- Sprig Curry Leaves
- Pinch of Asafoetida
- 1/2 tsp Red Chili Powder
- Pressure cook the lentils. Add the toor dal to a small pot along with 400ml water. Cover the pot and place it in the pressure cooker. Add water around the pot, close the pressure cooker, and cook the lentils for six whistles. Let the pressure release, and then whisk the dal thoroughly with a dal ravi/ghotni.
- While the lentils cook, make the drumstick curry. In a large kadai, heat oil on medium flame. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop, then add the cumin seeds. When they splutter, add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, salt, and dried spices. Cook, stirring constantly, until the oil separates, then add your drumsticks. Add around 600ml water, cover the kadai, and cook until the drumsticks are soft — about 15 - 20 minutes.
- Add the cooked dal to the curry along with jaggery and goda masala. Stir to mix everything through and simmer until the dal reaches your desired consistency (I prefer it thicker to serve with poli/chapati and thinner for rice).
- Temper the dal. To a small tadka pan, add oil. Heat the pan over low flame and add the dried red chilis, then the curry leaves (be careful, the curry leaves splutter!), asafoetida, and chili powder. As soon as you add the chili powder, turn off the heat.
- Pour the tempering over the dal and stir through, then serve garnished with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice.
* If you can't access goda masala, you can make your own or replace it with 1/4 tsp garam masala.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 362Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 783mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 26g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.