Drumsticks, such a funny name, are stick shaped vegetables that grow on a tree. They are funny, skinny, long vegetables with a hard outer covering that gives them the name drumsticks. You have to be in the know to eat this vegetable, as you would never guess it. There is a soft interior that is delicious. The pieces of drumsticks have to be picked up with the fingers, the exterior is squashed in the mouth and the tender interior can be scraped out with the teeth. You come to love this little procedure. The harder skin, once all flavour is extracted from it, is discarded on the side of the plate.
Drumsticks are particularly delicious in Sambar and Rasam. They are best bought fresh, but frozen drumsticks are readily available in Indian groceries if you can’t find them locally. This recipe is from the classic book Classic Tamil Brahmin Cuisine, such a great book of classic South Indian / Tamil traditional recipes. The method is somewhat different to Meenakshi Ammal’s seminal recipes from Cook and See, in that the tadka is added to the base gravy before the cooked dal is added. Ammal usually also includes tomatoes in her sambar as well, and thickens the dish with a little rice flour or besan at the end. I have added the thickening trick to the recipe as it really does add to the texture of the dish.