Sahjan Ajwaini: Drumstick Curry with Carom Seeds

4 Oct

Drumstick Tomato Curry

Do you use ajwain in your cooking? My long-standing ritual has been to include ajwain in parathas – I put in a few seeds while kneading the dough and let it work its magic in the finished flatbread. Nowadays I’m feeling an extra fondness for this thyme-like spice and am exploring more ways of incorporating it in my food. I’m happy to report on a few super-successful experiments – sahjan ajwaini is one of them.

My kitchen trials tell me that ajwain performs very well in these (rather opposing!) roles:

  • To bring contrast: when used as tadka with bland vegetables/dal e.g.plain yellow moong dal, boiled potatoes
  • To complement: when paired with somewhat bitter vegetables, such as drumstick (moringa pods) or eggplant

For me, ajwain works best when it works alone. Carom seeds in the tadka means I would keep other spice jars (okay, turmeric and chili perhaps get a pass) firmly shut.

When I made sahjan ajwaini the first time, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. This is not a tried-and-tested family recipe – we usually cook drumstick with potatoes and mustard. Combining drumstick with carom seeds was something of a first, and I was pretty pleased with the result. I have been coming back to this recipe ever since.

Sahjan Ajwaini

You Need:

[for 2-3 servings]

  • Drumstick/moringa pods – 3 stalks
  • Tomatoes – 3 small/2 medium
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Onions – 1 small (1/2 cup when finely chopped)
  • Green chili – 1
  • Paprika powder – 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste
  • Carom seeds (ajwain) – 1/3 teaspoon
  • Oil – 1/2 tablespoon

Drumstick Carom Seed Curry Ingredients

In the picture above: drumstick, carom seeds, tomatoes, green chili, onion.

How To Make Sahjan Ajwaini:

1. Cut the vegetables

Peel and thinly slice the onions.

Finely chop the green chili.

Chop the tomatoes.

Trim the ends of the drumstick stalks. Cut each stalk into 2-inch pieces, stringing it while cutting so that the tough skin comes off. [You need not bother about deskinning too cleanly as you’d chew and discard the drumstick remains in any case. What, you didn’t know this? Then you must read the intro to the aloo sahjan recipe to learn more about the drumstick.]

Drumstick Moringa Pods, Chopped

2. Cook

In a pan or kadhai, heat half a tablespoon of oil.

To the oil, add carom seeds. As soon as the seeds splutter, add chopped green chilies. Follow immediately with sliced onions. Cook on medium heat till the onions are translucent.

Onions, Green Chilies, Carom Seeds Cooking

Add turmeric powder, and salt. Stir and cook for another minute.

Next add the drumstick pieces to the pan. Cook for two minutes, stirring regularly.

Drumstick and Onions, Cooking

Tip in the chopped tomatoes into the pan. Cook on high heat, stirring regularly, till the tomatoes ooze out their juices (3-4 minutes).

Drumstick and Tomatoes, Cooking

Mix in paprika powder. Add a cup of water to the pan. Bring to a boil.

Sahjan Tamatar Sabzi, Simmering

Adjust salt if needed. Set heat to low. Cover the pan and simmer till the drumstick has softened. [The time will vary depending on the thickness of the drumstick – say, in the range of 10-15 minutes.]

When the drumstick is done, turn off the heat and let the dish rest covered for another ten minutes.

Sahjan ajwaini (drumstick curry with carom seeds) is ready to eat. Serve hot.

Meal below: sahjan ajwaini with chapatis and pomegranate raita.

Sahjan Ajwaini - Drumstick with Carom Seeds


Try adding a few carom seeds in place of other spices in Indian chai. It’s delicious!

No comments yet

Leave a Reply