Drumstick Lentil Curry | Murungakkai Parrupu Kulambu | South-Indian Drumstick Dal | Drumstick Sambar

Dal, lentil curry, sambar and parrupu kulambu lovers: rejoice! For unto you is presented the king of lentil curries: the drumstick lentil curry. You shall find it more creamy, nutritious and pleasurable than just plain dal. Follow this recipe and you shall find great joy!

Servings 9 servings


  • 185 g 1 cup split pigeon pea | toor dal | thuvaram paruppu
  • 4 drumsticks
  • 150 g shallots | sambar onions | chinna vengayam after peeling them I got 125 g
  • 200 g tomatoes
  • 6 g garlic peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2- cm ball of tamarind
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves to garnish

To Temper

  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek powder
  • 5 dry red chillies broken in half with the seeds gently tapped out
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 green chilly deseeded (optional; if you’re using the green chilly, reduce the dry red chillies by two)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 4 cups of water


  1. Rinse the split pigeon pea and soak it in water for half an hour. Also soak the ball of tamarind in a cup of water.
  2. Meanwhile you can peel the onions and garlic and drumsticks. For the drumsticks, you can use a peeler or a knife. If you’re using a knife, you will have to place the drumstick flat on your cutting board, hold it down with one hand and wielding a knife in the other, scrape the peel away, either with strokes in the same direction or both directions. Like you were sharpening a knife. You could hold the drumstick in your hand, and place the tip on the cutting board instead of the entire vegetable on the cutting board. Then cut it up into 2- or 3-inch pieces.
  3. Roughly chop the onions and tomatoes, and drain the toor dal.
  4. Place a heavy bottomed vessel or a pressure cooker on medium heat and add to it the soaked and drained toor dal.
  5. Add three cups of water, the chilli powder, salt, and the tomatoes and garlic.
  6. Cover and cook until it is half cooked.
  7. Open the lid and add the cut up drumsticks. Close the lid and cook until both the drumsticks and the toor dal are cooked. Once it cooks, gently remove the drumsticks and mash the cooked toor dal with a ladle. If your have become soft, skip this step as moving them around will break them.

  8. While the drumstick lentil curry is cooking you can get the remaining ingredients ready for tempering.
  9. Heat the oil in a small kadai or wok or frying pan, and once it get hot, add the mustard seeds.
  10. Once they crackle, add the fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and dry red chillies.
  11. Sauté for 15 seconds and add the onions, curry leaves and green chilly.
  12. Fry until the onions are light pink, then add the ginger garlic paste and let it fry for a minute.
  13. Add the coriander powder, fenugreek powder, asafoetida powder, and turmeric powder. Sauté for a few minutes.
  14. Add the tamarind water to this fragrant tempering, and let it come to a boil.
  15. After a few minutes pour this boiling mixture into the hot drumstick lentil curry.
  16. Gently mix it about, sprinkle the coriander leaves on top, and cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
  17. Serve hot with rice. You could add teaspoon of ghee or butter to enhance the flavour. Mmmmm… yummy murungakkai parappu saadam.


Any oil with a high smoking point can be used. Typical Tamil cuisine uses sesame oil or groundnut oil.If you don't have shallots, the regular red onions will do, and if you do not have tamarind, just add two more small tomatoes. Usually I also add a fistful or two of mung dal to the toor dal. You can add two fistfuls of mung dal (if you have them in your pantry) to a measuring cup and fill it up with toor dal.