Shevgyacha Shengachi Bhaji| Maharashtrian Drumstick Curry

Shevgyacha Shengachi Bhaji is a delicious drumstick curry from the state of Maharashtra. It is a gravy-based dish that goes very well with both rotis and rice.

When we visited some Maharashtrian family friends of ours in Indore some time ago, the hostess had prepared Shevgyacha Shengachi Bhaji for lunch. I fell in love with it at first bite, and immediately asked her if she could teach me the recipe. She was generous enough to do so, and now, this curry has become a staple at our dinner table too. I absolutely love this fact about my kitchen – how the food I cook on an everyday basis is a reflection of our families and memories, the changing seasons, our travels, the people we meet, the shows we watch, and the books we read. 🙂

Full of the goodness of drumsticks, Shevgyachi Shengachi Bhaji tastes beautiful. It has the robust flavour and fragrance of goda masala, the quintessential spice blend that you will find in several Maharashtrian kitchens. It is spicy (though we adjust the spice level to match our tastes), with just a hint of sweetness and sourness. Today, I am going to share with you all how to make this traditional Maharashtrian curry – do try it out some time and I am sure you will love it too! It is the season for drumsticks right now, and the markets are flooded with them – there’s no better time than now to make this dish.

Shevgyacha Shengachi Bhaji, served with rotis

Looking for other recipes using moringa? Check out this Saragva Ni Kadhi, a Gujarati curd-based dish, and this Shevgyacha Shengachi Amti, a Maharashtrian dal, both made using moringa pods. This Murunga Poo Poriyal from Tamilnadu uses moringa flowers. Murunga Keerai Rotti, Murunga Keerai Adai and Murunga Elai Podi are great ways to make use of the nutrition-packed moringa leaves.

Ingredients used in Shevgyacha Shengachi Bhaji

Drumsticks or moringa pods (called ‘shevgyacha shenga‘ in Marathi) are the main ingredient in this curry. You will need 5-6 big ones, fresh and full of meat.

There are different ways to make Shevgyacha Shengachi Bhaji, the ingredients used undergoing changes in different households. The recipe I am sharing today is based on what I learnt from our family friend, the way they make it at their place.

We start out by cooking the drumsticks in some water, along with some salt and turmeric powder. Then, they are cooked some more in tamarind extract. The tamarind isn’t exactly a common addition in this curry, apparently, but our family friend uses it and so do I – I rather love the sourness it adds to the dish.

A paste is made using onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes, with a little dried coconut and fried gram. The drumsticks are cooked with this paste for a while, with goda masala, a dash of jaggery for flavour, and some red chilli powder.

Many Maharashtrian families use kanda-lehsun masala – a dry blend of onion, garlic, ginger, dry coconut and other spices – in this dish. Our hostess suggested leaving it out if one does not have ready access to it, and I followed her advice.

Shevgyacha Shengachi Bhaji recipe

Here is how to make this curry. There are quite a few stages involved in the making of this dish, but the preparation is definitely not difficult.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

1. 5 drumsticks

2. A small piece of tamarind

3. 1 medium-sized onion

4. 2 medium-sized tomatoes

5. A 1-inch piece of ginger

6. 5-6 garlic cloves

7. 2 tablespoons dessicated coconut

8. 1 teaspoon fried gram (‘pottukadalai‘ in Tamil)

9. 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon oil

10. Salt to taste

11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

12. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

13. 2 pinches of asafoetida

14. Red chilli powder to taste

15. 3/4 teaspoon coriander powder

16. 2 teaspoons goda masala or to taste

17. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste

18. About 1 cup water or as needed

19. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander


Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Centre row, left, centre and right, bottom left: Step 4, Bottom right: Step 5

1. Soak the tamarind in boiling hot water for 10-15 minutes, for it to soften. Allow it to cool down enough to handle.

2. Remove the ends of the drumsticks and chop them into 2-inch pieces. Keep ready.

3. Now, we will prepare a paste that’s needed to make the curry. Peel and chop the ginger, garlic cloves and onion finely. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep the dessicated coconut and fried gram ready.

4. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chopped onion, ginger and garlic. Saute on medium flame for 2-3 minutes or till the onion starts browning. Now, add in the chopped tomato, along with a little salt and water. Saute on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the tomatoes are cooked and mushy. Add in the dessicated coconut and fried gram at this stage, and saute on medium flame for a minute. Switch off gas. Allow all the sauteed ingredients to cool down fully.

5. When completely cool, transfer all the sauteed ingredients to a mixer jar. Grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside.

Top left and right: Steps 6 and 7, Centre left and right: Steps 8 and 9, Bottom left and right: Steps 10 and 11

6. Using a little water, extract all the juice from the tamarind. Keep aside.

7. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cumin seeds and asafoetida, and allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds. Then, add in the chopped drumsticks along with a little salt, turmeric powder and water. Mix well.

8. Turn the flame down to medium. Cook covered for 5-7 minutes or till the drumsticks are cooked through. You will need to uncover the pan intermittently to check on them, adding more water if needed. The drumsticks are done when they aren’t bright green any more and you are easily able to split them open with your fingers, as shown in the picture above (Centre row, left).

9. Once the drumsticks are cooked, add the tamarind extract to the pan. Mix well. Cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes.

10. Now, add the onion-tomato paste to the pan. Wash the mixer jar using about 1/2 cup of water, and add it to the pan. Mix well and cook on medium flame, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes.

11. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste. Mix well.

Top left and right: Step 12, Centre left and right: Step 13, Bottom left and right: Steps 14 and 15

12. Add goda masala and jaggery powder. Mix well.

13. Add in about 1/2 cup of water at this stage, or as needed to adjust the consistency of the gravy. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the gravy thickens. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas when the gravy has thickened up, but is still slightly runny. Remember that it will thicken up further with time.

14. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Shevgyacha Shengachi Bhaji is ready.

15. Serve the Shevgyacha Shengachi Bhaji warm along with rotis or rice.

Dietary guidelines

This Shevgyacha Shengachi Bhaji is made with minimal oil. It does contain jaggery, but you may skip it if you do not prefer using it.

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan recipe, which is suitable for people following a plant-based diet.

If you want to make this curry gluten-free, skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour and are best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, do go ahead and use it.

Tips & Tricks

1. Don’t overcook the drumsticks. Cook them till just done. They will cook further in the gravy.

2. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the gravy you require.

3. Do use the goda masala for that authentic Maharashtrian flavour. Do not substitute it with Punjabi garam masala – that has a completely different flavour profile. I have used home-made goda masala here.

4. You will be adding salt at different stages. Make sure you don’t add too much, or the gravy will become too salty.

5. I have used store-bought dessicated coconut here. You can grate a whole dry coconut (kopra) too, and use the shavings in the gravy. I prefer using only dessicated coconut in this recipe for the authentic taste. However, in a pinch, I think fresh grated coconut should work as well.

6. Adjust the quantity of tamarind as per personal taste preferences.

7. Adjust the quantity of red chilli powder depending upon how spicy your goda masala is.

8. Keep the gravy slightly runny because it tends to thicken up over time. If it gets too thick , before serving, add in a splash of water to loosen it and heat it up gently.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!