Murungai Keerai and Vaerkadalai Poriyal (Drumstick Leaves and Peanuts Fry)

In Tamil Nadu, drumstick leaves have been sustaining the health of Tamilians because they are rich in a large number of nutrients. This is the reason why drumstick trees are planted almost in every household. Even hut dwellers have drumstick leaves growing next to their dwellings. I have already given a recipe for cooking drumstick leaves with prawns. This recipe combines groundnuts with drumstick leaves to give equivalent nourishment for vegetarians.

Murungai Keerai and Vaerkadalai Poriyal 1 - Kalasi Kalai

Murungai Keerai and Vaerkadalai Poriyal

Nutritive Value

The nutritive contribution of drumstick leaves is spectacular. They provide 6g of protein, 110mg of vitamin C, 320mg of calcium, 0.31mg of vitamin E, and 17,540µg of beta carotene per 100g. The boiled groundnuts provide 25g of protein per 100g. Therefore the leaves and the nuts in this dish together make this the most highly nutritive vegetarian dish.

Fun fact: Drumstick leaves are also used in the preservation of ghee (clarified butter) in homes. When butter is melted and heated to a light brown colour, a handful of drumstick leaves are also added. When the ghee is cooled the leaves are removed (I used to love eating these ghee fried leaves when I was a child). The vitamin E in the drumstick leaves prevents the development of rancidity in ghee during storage. This method was discovered long before scientists came across vitamin E (tocopherol).


  • 1 large bundle of Drumstick Leaves
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 5-6 Dry Chillies
  • ¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Black Gram Dhal
  • 1/8 tsp Asafoetida Powder
  • 1 T Coconut scrapings
  • 1 T Vegetable Oil
  • ¼ kg Groundnuts in shells
  • 2 tsp Salt


  1. Soak the groundnuts in water for 6-8 hours.
  2. Wash the groundnuts well, and pressure cook them with 1 teaspoon of salt for 30 minutes.
  3. Cool the groundnuts. Remove from shells. Measure ½ cup and set aside.
  4. Remove the drumstick leaves from the stems. Wash and drain.
  5. Heat a very large kadai or wok.
  6. Add the drumstick leaves and broil, stirring often, till the leaves look cooked. Do not add water.
  7. Heat the oil in a non-stick kadai or wok. Add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the black gram dhal.
  8. When the black gram dhal becomes golden brown, add the dry chillies.
  9. After 30 seconds, add the onion and fry till translucent. Add the asafoetida powder.
  10. Immediately add the drumstick leaves and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir and mix well.
  11. Cook for a few more minutes, add the ½ cup of shelled groundnuts and coconut scrapings.
  12. Stir for a minute and remove from heat.
Murungai Keerai and Vaerkadalai Poriyal 2 - Kalas Kalai

Boiled whole groundnuts, shells opened, and shells removed


  1. Soaking the whole groundnuts helps to soften the shells and also to loosen the earth sticking to them. Wash 2 or 3 times to remove the earth.
  2. Drumstick leaves contain a protein, mucin. Mucin becomes slimy when it comes in contact with water. Therefore, do not add water when cooking drumstick leaves.

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