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Updated: Feb 13

There is one heavily pregnant lady living in my garden – a Murungai-akka Tree. Akka in the Tamil language means elder sister.

She holds the attention of everyone walking up and down our street. Young and old alike wonder how to get a share of the fleshy drumsticks she bears.

Most people help themselves to the drumsticks and a few of them take our permission before plucking. Rest of the drumsticks reach the gravies simmering in my kitchen, my neighbours’ and those of friends all over Chennai. Once, they flew with me to Delhi and graced the sambar I made for my friend in her home. A bunch of drumsticks also joined Dr. Jayasree, an NRI guest I met for the first time at Taj Fisherman’s Cove, at the end of a tour I had organised for her. She was happy to take a small detour to pick up the drumsticks on her way to the airport.

Our Murungai Akka gives me more than her fruit. She shares her precious greens with me, locally called Murungai Keerai. I don’t need to tell you about this superfood that is dried, powdered and anglicized as Moringa leaves . The fresh leaves are, of course, more power-packed.

An electric pole vies for air space with her sprangled branches and this has been a bone of contention between my husband and myself. After much sparring, a middle path has been found. I will let the branches going near the wires be trimmed but he should time it so that the greens on the cut branches can be used by someone.

By now you may think that I am one crazy woman overdoing my Murungai – Love 😊.

Nah!!! I am not alone. The joy I have seen in those to whom I have given drumsticks and their enthusiastic feedback on its taste shows that I am in good company!

Most times I end up plucking the drumsticks for my sambar after the pan is on the stove. When I make lentil gravy with Murungai leaves, the lentils are just starting to boil while I pluck and separate the leaves from the stalks. Least time between farm and fire!! One thought that crosses my mind at those moments – I am one of the richest humans on this Earth.

Thank you Murungai Akka for being in our family!!

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Beautifully penned the love for the native vege that connects kitchens to relations!I still remember how I used to runaway when you feed me with different varieties of dishes with your murugai akka😂 , still it was all worth while!

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Obedient kid that you are, you endured being fed keerai kadasal by me as your Mum watched on with a satisfied smile....


When in Barrackpore near Kolkata, we had a huge drumstick tree which in season were festooned with thousands of drumsticks. I had not discovered the joys of the produce then and a former soldier who had a small eatery nearby requested for permission to harvest the lot for sambar and the like, which I happily gave. In return, he would give me two (never, ever more) samosas which I would even more happily consume. Then in Mathura, we had about four such trees laden with drumsticks of which not a single was touched. Now, living in Pune, I have suddenly developed a taste for the thing (a good local cook helps) and I have it every day with a whole…

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Loved the samosa murungakka barter system Daphne,, Thanks for sharing this memory


Dear friend I am so lucky to enjoy the delicious moringa that you give which I use it in my fish curry that enhances the taste of it exceptionally. Let our murungai- akka give enormous amout of drumsticks every year .

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Our Murungai akka says thanks for good wishes Manju,

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