The Drumstick tree in our garden has started flowering and we will see thin tender drumsticks protruding from the bunches in a couple of weeks. But early last month when it was still a bit cold the drumstick flowers were just budding. I plucked some and made a drumstick flower cheela for breakfast, planning to pluck more and cook a few new recipes this season.
A coincidence later that day, when I was out to buy some vegetables at the neighborhood subziwala I saw a silver haired lady asking the cost of ek pao swanjne ke phool (a quarter kilo drumstick flowers), pointing to a small basket and there I saw a heap of light pink hued buds of drumstick flowers.
These were the flowers of another variety of drumstick and the lady's question gave me ideas. I immediately asked her what was she planning to make and told her that she can get as much flowers as she wants from my tree. Some chitchat ensued and we exchanged recipes, she told me she makes pickle with it too and that perked up my ears.
The subziwala was not happy as so much drumstick flowers were being cooked in so many recipes and none was being bought from his shop. I ended up buying some drumstick flowers to please him.
This drumstick flower pickle was made the very next day after some planning, I thought of adding a few more elements to keep some texture in the pickle.
The resulting pickle was really good. I gifted to a friend and she also loved it. Now to the recipe.
(fills up a 500 ml glass jar)
200 gm drumstick flowers *cleaned* and rinsed under running water
200 gm lotus stem thinly sliced (I used thin tender ones, you can chop in smaller bits if the lotus stem is thick and fleshy)
one large bulb of garlic peeled and halved lengthwise
6-8 large chilly peppers (less hot variety) sliced in bite size pieces
1/3 cup mustard oil
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp yellow mustard powder
1 tbsp fenugreek powder
1 tsp nigella seeds crushed lightly
1 tsp ajwain (bishop's seeds) seeds crushed lightly
1-2 tbsp red coarse chilly powder (to taste)
3 tbsp salt
*cleaning the drumstick flowers may be tricky if it is not too fresh. Soak it in water for 20 minutes and then rinse under running water to make sure all dirt and impurities are washed away.
Boil water in a deep pan, about one liter with 1 tsp salt to blanch the lotus stem and flowers both.
Dip the sliced lotus stem in boiling water for a couple of minutes and strain. Keeping the lotus stem in a steel colander while dipping it in the boiling water helps.
After removing the lotus stem from the boiling water, dip the drumstick flowers too for just a couple of seconds and take them out or pour everything over the colander that has the blanched lotus stem slices. Let all the water drain, for about 10 minutes. No need to make the vegetables dry.
Mix everything together in a large bowl.
And transfer in a sterilized glass jar.
The pickle will be ready to eat in the next 24 hours or so. Top up with some more mustard oil if the pickle ingredients don't settle down and a thin layer of oil floats on top.
This lotus stem and drumstick flowers pickles lasts for at least six months. The tartness increases a bit after some time as the pickle keeps 'pickling' more.
I am loving this pickle though I keep saying I don't like pickles much. Sometimes with plain dal chawal meals and sometimes with a paratha, this new pickle has already become a favourite.
This pickle can also be made using sun dried flowers of drumstick. I am planning to pickle some drumstick leaves too along with the flowers next time. Will add those pictures when I do that.