colocasia tubers stir fry with drumstick leaves and coconut...

I get tempted to cook with drumstick leaves when I see the tree in my garden bearing light colored tender leaves. There is a distinct fragrance in the tender leaves of drumstick that you would get only when you pluck them. These leaves have great nutritive value and can be taken for calcium and iron supplementation in a natural way.

The best part with drumstick leaves is, they are cheap source of all the nutrients that grow easily. A tree of drumstick sprouts back even after a heavy lopping and is full of beautiful greens every few months. This tree is a blessing and does not need much care, the most naturally organic source of nutrient rich greens. Much more value to food than the over hyped spinach. With a rich supply of calcium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin C and A these greens are great for rheumatism and gout, a food that is considered tonic in nature. The nutrient value is multiplied when it is cooked with fresh coconut using a healthy cooking oil.

I cooked it with Taro roots or colocasia corms this time, which is another tonic food for GI tract conditions. But it will be better to know about taro a little more before you jump to label taro (arbi) as a "healthy" healthy food and suitable to be a daily fix.

I rarely cook arbi or colocasia tubers actually. Also called as taro roots, these corms belong to a huge family of tubers that are a little slimy and and sometimes itchy in the throat owing to the presence of oxalates in them. Yes, taro roots do have some anti nutrients like oxalates, protease inhibitors, lectin, phenolic compounds, alkaloids, phytates, cyanogens and saponins. But the good thing is,these anti nutrients and mild toxins and in very low amounts and can be minimised by cooking and roasting techniques. But do take care that continuous consumption of taro roots in large quantities may lead to toxicity. Read this study. On the other hand , taro is considered great for all conditions of an inflamed mucus membrane so it is good for many GI tract conditions. This study shows how it is used for treating scorpion stings and tuberculous tumors as well. Overall a good source of low GI complex carbs, some protein and a host of minerals in it. Taro adds magnesium to this already mineral rich stir fry.

I wrote a teaser to this wonderful recipe yesterday as I was inspired to cook it seeing the swaying drumstick branches in the pleasant morning breeze. The stir fry had little itchiness when I tasted instantly after cooking it, but after mixing the lime juice and refrigerating the stir fry overnight, it was the most aromatic side dish ever. Redolent with fresh coconut and curry patta, cumin and ginger. The husband loved it but guessed all ingredients wrong. I declare him a glutton, not a foodie.

(3-4 servings as a side dish)

baby arbi (taro roots) peeled, halved or quartered and rinsed nicely under tap water 300 gm
fresh coconut bits or grated 1 cup
tender drumstick leaves , cleaned and finely chopped 4 cups
4 cloves of garlic chopped
3-4 whole dry red chilies broken
an inch long piece of ginger root
2 tsp cumin seeds
10 springs of curry patta
1 tsp of turmeric powder
salt to taste
2 tbsp of sesame oil (or coconut oil or any oil you prefer)
lime juice 1 tbsp or more


Heat sesame oil in a thick base pan (kadhai) and tip in the chopped garlic and broken red chilies. Tip in the sliced Taro roots as well almost immediately. Fry these till you see the taro roots getting a pinkish brown hue. Add salt and turmeric at this pint , keep the flame low and mix everything well.

Add the chopped drumstick leaves, mix well and stir fry till the leaves get limp and cooked. Takes about 2-3 minutes, cook more if the taro needs more time.

In the meanwhile, make a coarse paste of coconut, ginger and cumin seeds, along with the curry patta leaves, without adding any water and add to the stir frying mix..

Cook the mixture more for about 3-4 minutes stirring all the while till the aroma of coconut and curry patta is evident. Take off the heat and add lime juice generously or as much as you like. Lime juice also helps absorption of the minerals better in this stir fry.

Let the stir fry sit for at least 2 hours before serving as lime juice neutralizes the oxalates and the itchy feeling in taro is gone. You can use turmeric pulp for the same purpose or even amchoor powder.

It can be a good side dish for a daal chawal meal for north Indians or some boiled pearl barley or red wild rice can be dded to make it a full meal if you have some protein on the side. I loved it with boiled red rice.

This stir fry can also be made using raw plantains or baby potatoes, may be a few other firm textured vegetables, but taro was a conscious choice as I wanted to convey how important it is to depend on cheaper naturally growing sources of vegetables around us. You can eat your street if you plant well.

In this recipe I used Taro, curry leaves and drumstick leaves, all of these can grow well around urban spaces that are not utilized for any productive purpose. Planting a tree that has shallow root system can be useful at the same time not causing harm to the existing buildings. Drumstick saplings in large pots, curry patta trees in ground as well as large pots and taro roots in empty spaces where nothing normally grows would be a good way to make the surroundings green in a productive way.

Other trees that need minimal maintenance are kachnar (Bauhinia species) and agast or agathi keerai (Sesbania grandiflora). There are varieties of these trees that grow only about 10 feet tall and can easily be used as a good supply of leafy greens. Some creepers like Bitter gourds, flat beans and snake gourds also do well in poorly watered areas. All these grow really well in terrace gardens even when you only have time on weekends to water the plants. Like I suggested in my last post, if you want a drumstick sapling for your terrace or balcony and if you are somewhere in Delhi, do shoot me a mail, I will plant one for you this monsoon and then you can pick it up from my place.

Greenery around your living space is an affirmation of life.

PS : Announcing the winners of the giveaway of Diva Green, the third cookbook by Ritu Dalmia here. And the winner is Madhuli according to Random Result. Congratulations Madhuli. Please email me at and send me your address so I can mail you the book.


  1. wow never had arbi with drumstick leaves... gotts try. thanks for sending it in :) and the page share.

  2. delicious awesome yummy combo curry.

  3. looks so good and love drumstick i want one in my yard ;-)

  4. Yet another awesome recipe sangeeta

  5. Hi,
    I'm a regular reader of your are simply great (recipes and writings). Just had a query...can a expecting mother have drumstick leaves coz a colleague of mine mentioned that one should refrain from eating drumsticks during pregnancy as they heat up the body....


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