Murangakai Soup (Tamil Drumstick Sāmbhar Soup)

Chefs Dhiraj, Suresh and Chindi at Grande Bay Resort and Spa in Mamallapuram shared this authentic drumstick Sāmbhar soup with us. The fact that we walked their organic garden and saw the drumsticks hanging from the trees just a few feet from where we were cooking the soup made this a truly “mile zero” meal.

Murangakai Soup (Tamil Drumstick Sāmbhar Soup) Recipe

4 servings


8 Drumsticks
½ cup moong dal
2 Tablespoons ghee
1 Bay leaf
2-inch piece cinnamon bark
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 sprig (10 – 12) fresh curry leaves
2 shallots or 50 grams of small Indian red onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, slit
½ teaspoon garlic paste
½ teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 small tomato, sliced in 8, lengthwise
½ teaspoon salt – or to taste
½ teaspoon Indian chili powder – or to taste
1 – 2 Tablespoons of finely cut fresh coriander leaves


  1. Cut 6 of the drumsticks in half and steam them until the pulp is soft in the middle – about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool and once cool, squeeze the pulp out by pressing a knife from one end to the other. Discard the outer skin and ridges and reserve the pulp.
  2. Cut the other 2 drumsticks in 2-inch pieces and boil them until soft, strain and set them aside.
  3. Boil the dal in 1 cup of water until soft and cooked (5 – 10 minutes), set aside.
  4. Heat the ghee in a large saucepan or wok and add the whole bay leaf, cinnamon, peppercorns, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and curry leaves, cooking until the seeds pop and dance in the pan.
  5. Add the sliced onion and cook until it turns golden brown (5 – 10 minutes) then green chili.
  6. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds before adding the ginger, cumin, coriander and turmeric powders.
  7. Let the raw taste of those spices cook off before adding the tomato slices. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the 2-inch drumstick pieces and reserved cooked dal and 1 – 2 cups of water and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. Taste and season with the salt.
  10. Strain the soup through a large sieve, pressing the dal and vegetables through but keeping the whole spices out of the final product.
  11. Add the reserved drumstick pulp and stir through.
  12. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
  13. Serve hot with idli, dosa or puttu and fresh coconut chutney.

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