Another food confession – I have never had drumstick leaves in my life, until sometime early this year. For those unknown, drumstick leaves or Murungai Keerai (Tamil) or Mulagaaku (Telugu) are quite commonly used in South India, especially for as side dish. During the Tamil month of Aadi, special Koozhu would be prepared for Amman (the Goddess) and the best accompaniment to it is Murungai Keerai Poriyal. Having gotten away all my life not eating these super good foods like bitter gourd or drumstick leaves, I was ready to swallow the poriyal with a glass of water when it was offered to me by my MIL. She insisted that I tried it and that I will love it. Per promise, I ended up liking it so much. Not having found Murungai Keerai never in our locality in Bangalore, I had to put out the idea of trying it in my kitchen. Last week however, I found some very fresh Murungai Keerai in the market and picked it up with both my hands. Immediately MIL was called to ask for the recipe and it got replicated in my kitchen.
My only grouse with drumstick leaves or Murungai Keerai is that is not so easy to clean it out. The leaves are small, in counts of three and you have to be careful not to include too many stalks while plucking out the leaves. I involved the husband as well to help me clean the big bunch and in less than 5 mins, he was bored and started playing with the stalks 🙄 He actually found 7 excuses in the time I spent doing this 😀 Anyway I digressed. In all, it was a much loved dish that day and I am sure I am going to make it quite often in my kitchen. I paired it with Chinna Vengaya Sambar (recipe coming up soon!) and it was a super hit.
To make Murungai Keerai Poriyal | Drumstick Leaves Stir-fry
What I used –
- Drumstick Leaves, 2 cups (tightly packed)
- Onion, 1 medium
- Dried Red Chillies, 1 or 2
- Mustard Seeds, ½ tsp
- Urad Dal, ½ tsp
- Jeera, ½ tsp
- Peanuts, a handful
- Garlic Pods, 2
- Oil, 1 tsp
- Salt, as required
How I made –
1. Carefully remove the drumstick leaves from the stalks (try not to leave too many stalks) and clean the leaves in running water. Set aside.
2. In a pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds, jeera, torn red chillies and urad dal. As the mustard seeds start popping, add finely chopped onion. Fry until translucent. Add the cleaned drumstick leaves. Set the flame on low.
3. Fry the drumstick leaves for a minute. Add salt required and cook it closed for about 7-9 mins on low flame. Stir occasionally. The leaves would wilt and look cooked.
4. Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl – add peanuts and peeled garlic pods. Set on micro high for 2-3 mins and once cooled down – make a fine powder. Add this peanut powder to the drumstick leaves and mix well.
5. Serve hot with hot rice and ghee/clarified butter. Works as best side dish for rice with Sambar/Rasam.
- While buying drumstick leaves, look for fresh batch with no pigmented leaves or wilted leaves.
- The tiny stalks in the drumstick leaves can be a discomfort while eating and can cause stomach ache. That’s why cleaning the stalks out of the leaves very important.
- Adjust the number of red chillies as per spice preference. Alternatively green chillies can be used as well.
- The drumstick leaves can have a mild bitter taste and adding roasted peanut powder really helps enhance the taste.
- Peanuts can be roasted on stove top as well, in a thick bottomed pan.