Drumstick stick leaves curry – Murungai keerai kai / fry


Murungai keerai – drumstick leaves are loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is one of the common spinach variety used in Tamil Nadu. Also it is one of the common tree found in the backyard of many households in my native. I have rarely seen people buying it from shops. In US, Indian grocery stores usually have them imported. When we went to Maui, Hawaii I was so surprised to see drumstick trees. I knew that Hawaii has the tropical vegetation but I didn’t know that they have drumstick trees also. I was so elated but couldn’t pluck and cook though :-) They call this as Moringa Oleifera.

When we were in pannaipuram, our neighbor akka used to make this curry or kai as we say in Tamil. It is very simple, yet delicious and healthy. I prefer the kai/fry than kootu. Amma usually prepares kootu.


The only thing that I find difficult with this keerai/spinach is the process of separating the leaves and the stems. But once it’s done, you can make n number of dishes. So here goes the first one.


  • Murungai keerai / Drumstick leaves – 3 cups
  • Shallots / Small onions – 10 (chop into small pieces) or one half of medum sized onion
  • Salt – 3/4 tsp
  • Sugar – 1/2 tsp
  • Red chillies – 2-3(Break them in small pieces, and also adjust the quantity according to your taste)
  • Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
  • Pepper Powder – ½ tsp

For tempering:

  • Oil – 2 tbsps
  • Mustard seeds : 1 tbsp
  • Urad dhal – 1 tbsp
  • Channa dhal – 1 tsp


  • Heat the kadai and add oil
  • Once the oil is heated, add mustard seeds, urad dhal and channa dhal
  • When they start spluttering, add the red  chillies.
  • Saute for a minute and then add the shallots.


  • Saute till the onions are translucent and now add the keerai
  • Add salt, sugar, turmeric powder and the pepper powder and close the kadai with the lid and let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes.


  • Then remove the lid and cook till the water gets evaporated and thats it.


It goes well with any sambhar or rasam rice.



  • Adding shallots add a unique flavor to the spinach. If you don’t have shallots you can use big onion.
  • Sugar is also optional. I just it added for additional flavor.

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20 thoughts on “Drumstick stick leaves curry – Murungai keerai kai / fry

  1. I have never cooked murungaikeerai in my kitchen Sri. Amma rarely uses it. MIL makes some awesome stir-fry too. Will share her version sometime :) I can so understand how it must have been for you, when you saw these leaves in Hawaii, but couldnt pluck & cook :)

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