Drumstick/Moringa leaves curry - a subtle and heartwarming comfort food

Moringa Drumstick leaves curry

Drumstick or Moringa leaves are from the Moringa tree. They are known for their high nutritive value, rich in minerals and vitamins. These trees are a common sight in most South Indian backyards.  One can make a delectable curry with the drumsticks as well as the leaves. Peeling the leaves from the stem is a task in itself and takes time. The leaves taste slightly bitter. In our household, mom commonly made an egg stir-fry with these leaves. Recently my friend shared a tempting picture of this curry and I jumped in asking for the recipe. It is an authentic Kerala classic that I have slightly tweaked to my taste. 

Moringa Drumstick leaves curry

Serves 4
For the curry:
1 cup fresh Drumstick/Moringa leaves 
1/2 cup toor dal
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder (or 1 whole red chili, optional) 
Salt to taste

For the masala:
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon black pepper seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds ( I have added this, optional)
1/4 cup fresh shredded coconut

For the tempering:
2 tsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
A sprig of curry leaves
A whole red chili
A pinch of hing/asaefotida ( I have added this, optional)

For the garnish:
1 small onion, minced

Moringa Drumstick leaves curry

Separate out the leaves from the stem, wash and set aside. The goal is to remove all stems and have every leaf separate (phew!).
Pressure cook the dal with 2 cups water, turmeric & chilly powder, then mash it down lightly.
Roast the whole red chili, grated coconut, coriander, cumin and black pepper in a spoon of oil until the spices are aromatic. In a blender, grind it down to a fine paste. Set aside. 

In a saucepan, add oil and set on medium heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and chili. When the mustard and curry leaf spluttering subsides, add the ground masala paste and let it cook until the oil separates from the sides of the pan. Add the cooked dal, salt and stir well. 

Cook the curry for 5-7 minutes on medium heat, add the fresh Moringa leaves and turn off the heat. Cover and let stand for 5-7 minutes. 

For garnishing, mince a small onion, saute in coconut oil to a caramel crunch. Top the curry with it. 

Serve with piping hot rice, papad and pickle alongside. Enjoy!