I have a Murunga/ Drumstick or Moringa tree in my backyard, so I have a seasonal supply of drumsticks (the fruit)and flowers. I also have a year round supply of fresh and tender Moringa leaves. These are all edible, though we don’t cook with the leaves during the monsoons, though. So today I’m sharing my recipe for Murungayila or Moringa Leaves Thoran.
Murungayila refers to the leaves of the Moringa/ Drumstick tree. Thoran, in Kerala, refers to a style of tempering, stir-frying vegetables and finishing them off with a sprinkling of fresh grated coconut. This is always served on the side with rice, and a gravy dish. The Moringa tree is common in South India. Many regional Indian cuisines cook with the tender leaves, fruit and flowers of the tree. We cook with the leaves, flowers and fruit very often. The health benefits of Moringa leaves and fruit have been long known.
This is the season for Drumsticks and my Moringa tree is in full bloom. The tree produces smallish cream coloured flowers. These are edible too. My recipe today is a way to cook the tender Moringa leaves and flowers together. Moringa leaves have to be used the same day as they are plucked as they wilt and lose their freshness very quickly. Only the tender or newer leaves are used. The older leaves tend to be bitter-ish, their stems are fibrous and don’t cook well. Prepping the leaves takes a little times. The leaves have to be removed from the main stems, making sure there are no pokey bits left.
This Thoran is very, very easy to cook and doesn’t need much time on the stove either. It is the prepping the leaves that take a bit of time. Each leaf must be plucked from the stem. The stem is discarded, unless it is also very tender. The flowers don’t need prepping of any sort. They can be used as they are. Moringa leaves wilt and shrink when cooked so you need a comparatively larger amount of leaves to cook with.
Murungayila or Moringa Leaves Thoran
- 1/3 cup split moong lentils moong dal
- 5 cups Murungayila or Moringa leaves
- 2 cups Murungapoo or Moring flowers
- 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 gram tsp split blacklentils urad dal
- 2 or 3 dried red chilies
- 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- cup ½fresh grated coconut
- Start by soaking the lentils in water for half an hour. Then drain the water and start cooking. In the meanwhile prep the leaves by plucking from the stems. If the stems are very tender you can just tear the leaves and stems as well, by hand. The flowers are fine just as they are.
- Start making the Thoran by heating the oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter add the split black gram lentils. Stir a couple of times till they start browning. Tear each red chilli into two or three and add to the wok. Also stir in the asafoetida powder and immediately add the Moringa leaves and flowers, and the drained moong lentils. Stir, then add the turmeric powder and salt to taste.
- Stir everything together for a minute. Then add about a 1/4 cup of water, not more. Let this cook until the water is absorbed and the lentils are cooked soft but not mushy. The leaves and flowers will cook very quickly.
- Turn off the heat. Mix in the fresh coconut and serve hot, on the side with rice and a gravy curry.