MORINGA LEAVES – THE NEW SUPER FOOD?
The other day my daughter came back from work all excited, telling me that her colleague was talking highly about a green leaf supplement and when she searched for it, it turned out to be humble moringa leaf. She knows it well as she has had it many times before, and she has seen the tree in the back yard of her grandparents’ house.
Apparently, recent scientific research has proven that these tiny leaves are in fact a powerhouse of nutrition and many people around the world are trying to source it.
It is a tree which I grew up with. Moringa trees are grown in the back yards of many South Indian homes. These small trees thrive in tropical sun, with slender branches spreading messily, adorned at the end with tiny, dark green dot-like leaves.
The tree is grown mainly for its long pods (muringakkai) which provides a deep umami flavour to many traditional South Indian vegetarian dishes. Leaves are used for dishes too but not as frequently as the green slender pods I believe.
When I studied nutrition in my university days, Moringa was the magical ingredient we were advised to use when we had to come up with unique nourishing diet plans. And it always worked. One good serving a day could easily supplement and improve the overall diet of any person. It is high in all nutrients especially in protein, calcium, iron and vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin A.
Ancient Ayurveda values these pods and tiny leaves very highly for treatments and diets.
The Moringa tree is also known as the drumstick tree because the long pods resemble drumsticks. The pods are known as moringakkai locally and are also lavishly used in traditional cooking. One of my favourite dishes is Muringakka-thoran which I have written about before.
Fresh Moringa leaves are sold at some Asian grocery stores in the UK, and dried Moringa leaf powder is sold in health food stores and on the internet these days.
I was truly intrigued when I heard about Moringa powder being used, and I then realized the rise in the status of this humble leaf all around the world. Now we need to value these leaves much more than we used to and I really hope people who have easy access to the fresh stuff will make good use of it!
MURINGA ILA PARIPPU CURRY (Dal with moringa leaves)
- 1 cup Mung dal (Cherupayar parippu)
- 2 tablespoons Fresh grated coconut
- 1 small Shallot
- 1 Green chili
- 1 cup moringa leaves
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 1 table spoon Coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 dry red chili
- Wash dal in cold water a few times until the water runs clear.
- Transfer the washed dal to a sauce pan, add two cups of water and bring to boil. Then reduce the fire and simmer gently for twenty to thirty minutes or until the dal is soft and starts to break down. Add more water if necessary in between cooking.
- Grind fresh coconut with green chilli, peeled shallot and some water in a blender, until the coconut is ground well.
- Add the ground coconut mixture, salt and moringa leaves to the cooked dal. Bring the mixture to boil and remove from fire.
- Heat coconut oil in a small frying pan, add mustard seeds and fry until it pops, then add dry red chili cut into half and fry in low flame until the colour of the chili turns deep red. Pour this oil over the daal mix and serve hot with plain steamed rice.
MURINGA ILA THORAN (Moringa leaf stir fried with coconut)
- 4 cups Moringa leaves chopped
- 1 small Onion chopped
- 4 tablespoons Grated fresh coconut
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon Coconut oil
- 1 Dry red chili
- A few curry leaves
- Mix together chopped moringa leaves, onion, grated coconut, turmeric powder and salt in a bowl. Keep aside.
- Heat coconut oil in a medium wok and fry mustard seeds until they start popping, add dry chili cut into half and curry leaves torn into small pieces and cook until the colour of the dry chilli turns deep red.
- Add the moringa leaf and coconut mixture, mix well, cover and cook on a low flame for ten to fifteen minutes, mixing in between, until the leaves are cooked through.