childhood favorite

Whenever I am in the mood for a cozy and comforting meal that doesn;t take too much effort, I resort to my childhood favorites – like pithla, bharli vangi, usal, or the Mudda Bhaji. It’s a mildly spiced dal or stew made with a generous amount of fresh fenugreek leaves (or spinach or a combination of the two), toor dal or split pigeon peas, and thickened with besan, i.e., chickpea flour. Think of it as a golden version of creamed spinach with a hint of spice and garlicky goodness. Inspired by my Ajji, I’m putting a unique twist on it by swapping the usual leafy greens with some unusual ones, turning it into the equally authentic and absolutely delicious, Moringa Leaves Mudda Bhaji.

Moringa Leaves Mudda Bhaji

Mudda Bhaji

The Mudda Bhaji is a humble stew and a Maharashtrian staple that I grew up eating regularly and make it quite often. The more common version is made by cooking together a big bunch of fenugreek leaves and split pigeon peas. It is then thickened with chickpea flour and finished off with the glorious ‘phodani’ or ‘tadka,’ i.e., hot oil seasoned with spices. If you think about it, it’s kind of a mash-up of two classic Maharashtrian dishes – amti and pithla.

Roots of Mudda Bhaji

The origins of this humble stew can be traced back to Karnataka, the neighboring state of Maharashtra. I believe Maharashtra then adopted it and put its own spin on it, in a way! The reason it was a regular in my childhood home, where we lived in a joint family, was because of my dad’s aunt, Didee, as we called her, who hailed from Karnataka. She would often prepare it with methi, i.e., fenugreek leaves, spinach, or a combination of both. Additionally, my mom also grew up enjoying this stew, which my grandmother would frequently make, not just with fenugreek leaves but with moringa leaves from the tree in her backyard!

Moringa Leaves Mudda Bhaji

I recall enjoying it alongside jwarichi bhakri (sorghum flour flatbread) or bajrichi bhakri (pearl millet flour flatbread). It also complements steamed white rice beautifully, offering a comforting and satisfying meal option.

moringa leaves

While I’ve had experience cooking with moringa pods (I even have a dal recipe featuring them in my cookbook) using the leaves is a new adventure for me. I have fond memories of plucking the leaves from the towering tree outside my grandmother’s house, but I’ve never had the chance to prepare them myself. So, when I stumbled upon a fresh bunch of moringa leaves at my local Indian store, I couldn’t resist bringing them home with me.

As I examined the leaves, I couldn’t help but notice their striking resemblance to fenugreek leaves triggering a rush of nostalgia. Memories flooded back of my mother’s fond stories about the Moringa Leaves Mudda Bhaji that my grandmother expertly crafted in her kitchen. Fueled by a deep sense of connection to my family’s culinary heritage, I felt compelled to embark on my own culinary adventure, determined to recreate my grandmother’s cherished signature concoction!

Health benefits of moringa leaves

Additionally, I figured, using moringa leaves in the mudda bhaji recipe would not only add a unique flavor but also enhance the nutritional value of the dish due to the many health benefits associated with moringa leaves. Moringa leaves are nutrient-dense and rich in antioxidants, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, offering potential benefits such as immune support, reduced inflammation, improved digestion, and enhanced skin health, although further research is needed to fully understand their effects.

Moringa Leaves Mudda Bhaji

To prepare the stew with moringa leaves, I stuck to the traditional recipe passed down from my mom and grandmothers. The process begins by simmering the leafy greens with split pigeon peas, a task made effortless with my trusty Instant Pot electric pressure cooker . Like most leafy greens, moringa leaves undergo significant shrinkage during cooking. As a result, I maintained a ratio of 8:1 for leaves to toor dal (equivalent to 4 cups of leaves for every 1/2 cup of raw split pigeon peas).

Moringa Leaves Mudda Bhaji

The essential component

The mixture of cooked leaves and dal is subsequently brought to a simmer on the stovetop, where it is thickened with a slurry consisting of equal parts chickpea flour and water (I typically use 1/4 cup of each in my recipe). While the stew simmers and thickens, an essential component known as the seasoned oil mixture, referred to as phodani or tadka, is prepared alongside.

This involves heating oil and adding basic spices such as mustard seeds, turmeric, and asafetida. Finally, spicy round dried red chilies and peeled garlic cloves are introduced to the oil, infusing it with their flavors as they sizzle over medium heat. This mixture serves as the primary focal point of the stew, imparting rich flavors to the dish.

Moringa Leaves Mudda Bhaji

Once the stew reaches the desired thickness and the chilies and garlic have obtained a golden hue, the infused oil is carefully spooned over the stew, with a portion reserved for garnishing later. A gentle stir to lightly incorporate the oil, and the stew is ready to be served!

Moringa Leaves Mudda Bhaji

With simple steps and wholesome ingredients, enjoy a taste of tradition with my Moringa Leaves Mudda Bhaji with Moringa Leaves. Perfect for a nourishing meal any day of the week!

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Moringa Leaves Mudda Bhaji


  • Author: Vasanti
  • Yield: 23 servings 1x

Description

Moringa leaves & split pigeon peas stew thickened with chickpea flour & topped with hot oil infused with chilies, garlic & spices.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Stew

  • 4 cups of moringa leaves (see FAQs & Notes + Variations)
  • 1/2 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 cups water
  • salt, as needed
  • 1 tbsp ground jaggery or coconut palm sugar

Slurry

  • 1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/4 cup water

Finishing Oil Topping

  • 1/4 cup neutral cooking oil (see Variations)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp asafetida
  • 45 dried red chilies
  • 45 garlic closed, peeled and (optionally) smashed

Instructions

Cooking the Leaves & Dal

  • Rinse the moringa leaves in a colander under cold tap water.
  • Transfer them to a chopping board and chop them roughly.
  • Place the toor dal in a stainless steel insert pan or directly in the inner pot of the Instant Pot and rinse under cold water.
  • Add 2 cups of water to the rinsed dal and then top with the chopped moringa leaves. Make sure the leaves are immersed in water by pressing them gently. 
  • Add 1 cup of water to the inner pot of the Instant Pot.
  • Place the trivet inside and then place the pan with dal, leaves and water over it.
  • Close the lid, turn the steam valve to sealing position.
  • Press the Manual button. Set the time to 15 minutes and pressure to high.
  • When cooking is complete, let the pressure release naturally. This will take about 15 minutes.
  • Open the lid and gently mash the cooked dal and moringa leaves mixture with a whisk and set it aside till you are ready to use.
  • You can also cook the two in a stove-top pressure cooker (4-5 whistles) or in a pot over the stove (add an additional cup of water to take into account evaporation). 

Making the Slurry

  • While the dal and leaves cook, make the slurry by whisking together the chickpea flour and water in a small bowl and set aside until ready to use. 

Making the Stew

  • Transfer the cooked dal and moringa leaves mixture to a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and stir in the prepared slurry. 
  • Season with salt and ground jaggery. 
  • Stir to combine well.
  • Cover and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Making the Finishing Oil Topping

  • In a small cast iron or stainless steel pan, heat the oil over medium heat. 
  • Add the mustard seeds, turmeric and asafetida.
  • When the turmeric and asafetida froths, add in the dried red chilies and the garlic cloves. 
  • Let the oil continue to heat over medium heat till the chilies and garlic sizzle and the garlic turns light golden brown. Turn the heat off and take the pan off the stove. 

Serving the Stew

  • Adjust the seasonings of the stew, if needed.
  • When the stew is thickened to a desired consistency and the chickpea flour no longer has a raw flavor, take the pot off the heat. 
  • Top the stew by spooning the hot seasoned oil along with the mustard seeds, fried red chilies and garlic cloves over it, while reserving some to top on individual servings.
  • Gently stir to incorporate the finishing oil in the stew a little but not completely.
  • Serve on the side of whole wheat rotis or chapatis, sorghum or pearl millet flatbreads or steamed white rice. 
  • Top with more finishing oil on individual servings, if desired. 

Keywords: Maharashtrian Recipes, Family Recipes, Comfort Foods, Healthy Recipes, Instant Pot Recipes

Step-by-Step Details

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

How to strip moringa leaves off their thick, large stems?

Pinch the stem near the top with the fingers of one hand, then run the fingers of your other hand down the length of the stem from top to bottom. This way, the leaves will come right off from the stem where they connect. The smaller, thinner stemsare tender enough to eat. You can simply chop them up along with the leaves.

Recipe Variations

Make the original version by substituting the moringa leaves with equal amounts of fresh fenugreek or spinach leaves or a combination of the two!

Try other leafy greens like chard or kale!

Substitute half the amount of oil with ghee for a rich, nutty flavor.

Add raw peanuts or cashews to the hot oil along with spices, chilies and garlic for an added crunch!

Happy cooking
Vasanti

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.



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