Moringa (drumstick) leaves stir-fry with grated coconut

Moringa Leaves Stir-Fry

Before we delve into the moringa (drumstick) leaves recipe, let me tell you about this tree of life a bit!

The story of ‘moringa‘ or ‘drumstick tree‘ is a fascinating one!

Moringa, a native of the Indian subcontinent, has been cultivated for centuries in the tropical climates of Africa and Asia. It is a popular cooking ingredient in the South Indian kitchen.

Long before it came to be recognised as a “super food“, my grandparents’ generation knew about the benefits of this tree. Back in the days when we used to live in independent homes with access to well water, there was always a moringa tree planted next to the well. All the leaves that the tree shed will then fall into the well, and they believed it purified the water which was then used for drinking and cooking. No sambhar was complete without the tender drumsticks. There were tons of other recipes made with the drumstick or moringa leaves – stir fries, daal and other curries, the options were numerous.

As a food, its leaves are rich in antioxidants, protein, minerals and vitamins A, B and C. The drumsticks, or tender seed pods, are a good source of dietary fibre, and contains vitamin C, potassium and magnesium.

“Moringa” has been called the “the miracle tree” or “the tree of life“. In some of the poorest countries in the world, these drought-resistant trees provide much needed food and nutrition during the times of famines. It’s no surprise that Fidel Castro once called moringa “food for the hungry”.

In this recipe, we’ll make a moringa leaves stir-fry, or thoran, just the way my granma used to make it. We’ll temper mustard seeds, shallots, curry leaves, and crushed dry chillies in oil, and stir fry with another super food – (grated) coconut. And it’s all organic!


Moringa (drumstick) leaves stir-fry with grated coconut
Moringa (drumstick) leaves stir-fry with grated coconut


Print Recipe
Moringa Leaves Stir-Fry (Thoran) with Grate Coconut Yum
This delicious moringa (drumstick) leaves stir-fry is made with two superfoods - moringa and coconut. This traditional recipe is easy, healthy and tasty!
Moringa (drumstick) leaves stir-fry with grated coconut
Course side dish
Cuisine Kerala
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 5 minutes
Course side dish
Cuisine Kerala
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 5 minutes
Moringa (drumstick) leaves stir-fry with grated coconut
  1. Wash and drain the moringa leaves. Get rid of all the thick sprigs. Finely chop the shallots.
    Prepping ingredients for the moringa (drumstick) leaves stir-fry
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, splutter mustard seeds followed by the chopped shallots. After the shallots are cooked to tender, add crushed chillies and curry leaves, and saute for a couple of minutes on a medium flame.
    Mustard seeds tempered in oil followed by shallots, crushed dry chillies, and curry leaves
  3. Now add the moringa leaves, sprinkle salt, and mix well. Cook with the lid closed for 15 minutes.
    Moringa (drumstick) leaves added and cooked with the lid closed
  4. Open the lid after 15 minutes. The leaves should be cooked by now. Add grated coconut, mix well, and cook for another 3-4 minutes without the lid. Stir occasionally.
    Grated coconut is added to the cooked moringa leaves
  5. Serve hot with some rice and curry.
    Moringa (drumstick) leaves stir-fry with grated coconut is served
Recipe Notes

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  1. I truly love your content. This article is amazing. I am sure I will be going through it several times.

    • The Take It Easy Chef

      Hello Tilly,
      Thank you very much for visiting my blog. I am sure you’ll love cooking some of these recipes! 🙂

  2. Hello Arun. I was hunting for the same recipe. My grandmother used to make this once in a while and stuff into our mouths, 🙂 I have been meaning to prepare this since a long time, had forgotten the preparation process. Thank you.

    • The Take It Easy Chef

      Hi Rajini,

      Thank YOU for checking out the recipe. I am glad you have found what you were looking for.
      I guess, we both owe it to our grandmothers!! 😀
      For us, there was no need to stuff into our mouths though!

  3. anne george

    I did not use the quantities you had put down, so probably that is why I ended up adding more coconut. Since it was my first attempt, I tired it on a little bit of leaves.
    Today I cooked it again and it came out great, and I like it. I liked it the first time too that I had to go all the way to the Indian store to get more. 🙂

    • The Take It Easy Chef

      Hi Anne,

      That’s fantastic! Thank you very much for visiting my blog. I am glad you liked the moringa leaves recipe. 🙂

  4. I tried cooking this for the first time. It came out well…. almost….just that I added more coconut. But now I know. Thank you. Great recipe. Lovely presentation too.

    • The Take It Easy Chef

      Thank you very much Anne! 🙂 I am glad to hear you almost liked it 😉
      Do you feel 1/2 cup grated coconut is too much? Do you recommend reducing it a bit?

  5. Asi Virobo


  6. Asi Virobo

    I have tried drinking moringa juice but never tried cooking moringa leaves. I’ll try cooking now after reading your recipe..

  7. I stumbled upon moringa whilst travelling in northern india. I liked it that much I started importing it to the UK. have it every day in my smoothie

    • The Take It Easy Chef

      That’s fantastic! I love moringa – leaves and drumsticks. I guess that’ll contribute as one of your five a day!

  8. Hans Kupfer

    I grow a moringa tree and and it was never used as a food source .Today my Indian doctor suggested to eat moringa leaves to rise my hemoglobin .
    So right now I will try your recipe
    The medicinal fact are quite convincing

    • The Take It Easy Chef

      Moringa leaves, and drumsticks prominently feature in many traditional South Indian recipes.
      Now it’s recognised as a super food!

      I am sure it’ll work for you too. Hope you like the recipe. Please let me know how you find it.

  9. Lovely post. I love these leaves, your recipe took me back to the Summers spent in my grand mother’s native home which housed moringa (murungakkai) trees.

    • The Take It Easy Chef

      Thank you Sundari.
      Our grandparents had access to all those things good and pure, isn’t it!

  10. Leigh Suznovich

    I’ve never heard of these leaves before! This dish looks so healthy and flavorful, I need to try it!

  11. The take it easy chef

    Thank you very much! It’s tasty as well, isn’t it!

  12. Sujata Shukla

    Very well written recipe! At present I am taking care of my daughter post her delivery, and I ensure that drumsticks are included frequently in a kootu or sambar as part of the balanced healthy diet.

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