Muringa ela thoran | moringa leaves stirfry

moringa leaves stirfry

Moringa leaf thoran is an easy stirfry recipe made in Kerala style. The recipe is a valued postpartum Indian vegetarian cuisine. Check out the step-by-step here.

When I became a mum for the first time, my parents were more excited than me. They were the solid support to raise my kids and played a humongous part in my postpartum care. The one thing that my parents made sure I had daily was moringa leaves. Even if it meant I felt like a cud-chewing cow with the amount of leaves they fed me, it did do me good. We had this moringa leaf thoran irrespective of what else went on the lunch plate and day in and day out for the first 50 days of my postpartum life I felt like a cow, chewing up and grinding the half plate of leaves for lunch! This love for moringa did not stop with the first. For my second, Mum and Dad packed almost a suitcase worth of dried and powdered moringa leaves and that took various forms in my meals! These were more so used in chappathis, dal etc

To date, my dad procures fresh moringa leaves carefully and picks and sorts them meticulously when we visit. Then, hands it over to Mum for the second level of cleaning and then cooking. Together their efforts ensure there are no small stalks or yellow leaves, just tender leaves to the moringa stirfry. over a while, I realize this is love, care and underacknowledged love for the young one and family. Now, it is not for the galactagogue but the benefits of moringa leaves that we enjoy the moringa leaves thoran.
Looking back I was happy I could breastfeed both my kids and am thankful too. The morning did work as a galactagogue and was very helpful for me. Not only that, it was so good for the mineral content and gut health. Therefore, the one ingredient that I will recommend to any new mom is moringa leaves.

Is moringa a galactagogue?

It is very interesting that moringa leaves are well known in Kerala as a galactagogue and are religiously provided to the new mother to help her adjust to the new routine easily. However, it is considered a very tough leaf to digest in other areas of India. the Moringa leaves do scientifically prove as a galactagogue. Moringa leaves increase the prolactin. This usually happens after about 24 hours so it is a slow-acting herb. This makes milk production easier as prolactin works with oxytocin that stimulates the mammary glands. This initiates milk production sealing the bond with the mum and the new baby.  This is usually added to the diet as soups or stirfry and is highly recommended by Ayurvedic practices. (Source)

Fresh moringa leaves
Ingredients to make moringa leaf stirfry

The recipe is very similar to any of the Kerala cuisine recipes for a stirfry. The same recipe is used for cheera thoran, beans upperi, cabbage thoran and achinga payar thoran. The difference is in the fact that moringa leaves are slightly cooked differently and no chillies are used to aid the gut of the new mum.

Moringa leaves: the fresh tender morning leaves are plucked as a bunch from the tree. The older leaves that are dark green are avoided and only the young leaves are used. These are tender and softer. If you have not tasted moringa leaves ever, it almost feels like Kale, but with a unique fragrance. Moring leaves are the only part used in this recipe, not the flowers. The stalk is removed to the best of effort which is a time taking process. You could also make moringa leaf dal, add it to salads or make crispy pakodas with the 

For tempering: though in the initial days the leaves are sauteed in coconut oil without any mustard or black gram dal. I still make it that way mostly, however, the pop of mustard, fenugreek and black gram dal is lovely too.
Seasonings: it is only salt that is used in this recipe. However, if you are making it on a normal day, you can add a bit of chilli powder or masala powder doesn’t hurt.

Coconut and coconut oil: the sauteeing is done in a bit of coconut oil. Ensure it is a good quality one and not the adulterated fragrance added to a neutral oil. I don’t have a brand preference but smell test and try before you settle on your liking. the final touch to the recipe is the fresh coconut grating. These add a sweetness that puts a bit of life into the steamed greens. 

Let’s make moringa leaf stirfry

  • Cleaning the moringa leaves: this is the time-consuming job of their whole recipe. The tiny stalks of the moringa leaf don’t soften upon cooking and hence have to be removed. So, slowly remove the soft green leaves. Then use a strainer to wash the leaves well. You don’t have to chop the leaves they are very tiny and curl up upon the touch of heat.
  • Tempering: The classic tempering of mustard, urad dal is used in this recipe too. However, the leaves are directly sauteed in ghee or coconut oil on the initial days of postpartum. This is to avoid any irritation of the gut by the small seeds.
  • Stirfrying the leaves: the leaves though small and tender can be tough to digest by the delicate gut that has gone through all the changes. So after sauteing, sprinkle a bit of water cover and steam-cook the leaves till tender before sprinkling salt. In this way, the salt is evenly distributed.
  • Cook covered by sprinkling water than boiling by adding a lot of water. If the leaves are fresh and tender
  • Finishing the recipe: The freshly grated coconut goes in last and just a quick mix and it is taken off the heat. The recipe is now ready. 

How to serve moringa ela thoran as a meal.

For a postpartum meal, soft cooked rice or red rice kanji with moringa ela thoran, pickled lemon and roasted papad were had. This was served hot and asked to be had when warm. Sometimes, golden turmeric buttermilk and rice replaced the kanji. Still, the moringa thoran stayed!

Muringa ela thoran

Moringa leaf thoran is an easy stirfry recipe made in Kerala style. The recipe is a valued part of post partum Indian vegetarian cuisine. Check out the step by step here.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course sidedish
Cuisine gluten free, Kerala, South indian
Servings 4 people


  • Kadai kadai is a a pan with a wok like structure but a thicker base.


  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4 cups moringa leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut


  • Pick, de-stalk and wash the moringa leaves thoroughly
  • Into the wok add the oil and let the mustard seeds splutter.
  • Now add the prepped moringa leaves and saute it well.
  • The leaves rapidly shrink in size.
  • Sprinkle a bit of salt, cover and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Reopen and mix well.
  • Saute well till the salt is mixed well and the water evaporates.
  • If it looks too dry sprinkle some water and mix well so it can cook evenly.
  • Once the moringa leaves turn dark and tender, sprinkle the coconut grated and mix well.
  • Remove from heat and cover and leave for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  • The recipe is now ready to be served.
Keyword Indian vegetarian dinner, leafy green recipes, moringa recipes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Other ideas for post-partum routine

The postpartum body is recovering from a huge change in structure, physiology and hormones along with a lot of wound healing. Care is of utmost importance to a new mum. Nourishing and simple food, yet protein-rich with enough water to keep up with the lactating needs are key to this new life adjustment. Here are a few recipes that I enjoyed during this time. They were not heavy in oil, but light and sumptuous.

Payaru kanji

Kurumilagu rasam


Turmeric pongal

Moru kaachiyathu

Paal kanji

Dates and nuts ladoo


There is certainly a lot of Old wisdom that is percolating back to the new generation. These are great because now we do have some scientific studies to test the efficacy rather than blindly following the ideas thrown at us. When Aruna called for a series of postpartum-related recipes, it was like a floodgate of memories. I am so thankful she opened up the idea of nourishing the new mum and Archana my partner for the theme gave me a free canvas to work with. The only recipe I wanted to write about was the underestimated Moringa leaves. 

Stay connected

It is lovely to have that strong support from your parents while you bring up your little ones. Being fortunate in this way, hopefully, you will find the same rest, nourishment and care that you deserve as a new mum.
Hope you can try out this moringa ela upperi even otherwise if you get fresh moringa leaves.
Enjoy motherhood
Stay subscribed and see you at the next post. 

moringa ela thoran

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2 months ago
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A simple easy and a healthy recipe for new moms. I would even like to make it as a staple one for us.

1 month ago
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Loved the way how your parents taken care of you during ur delivery time. This drumstick leaves is very healthy and tasty too, like to have it with hot rice and roti

1 month ago
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Moringa leaf thoran is loaded with nutrients and perfect for the new moms. I remember having it after my delivery. Just need some hot rice to polish it off .

1 month ago
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Moringa leaf thoran sounds interesting… I love moringa leaves and I am sure this will be a hit when I try this recipe….

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