Murungai Illai (Moringa leaves) Sothi


Sothi (called kiri hodi in Sinhala) is one of the most traditional side dishes in Sri Lanka.  I have posted the recipe for regular sothi quite a while ago.  This time since I had some moringa leaves, I decided to make sothi with Moringa leaves.  Moringa leaves sothi goes verry well with string hoppers (idiyappam) and may be puttu (pittu) or may be even rice.

To give a little bit of introduction to Moringa leaves  (“Murungai illai” in Tamil and “Murunga” in Sinhala) – this is from the tree Moringa Oleifera that is one of the most nutritious leaves that you can find.  Moringa trees grow quite wildly all over Sri Lanka and most of the part of the tree is used in cooking (leaves, flower, and the fruit/vegetable).  Moringa tree has been used in traditional medicine for a long time.  It bears the vegetable called “Drumsticks” in English or “Murungaikai” in Tamil.  But the most nutritional part is the leaves.  The leaves are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Calcium.  It also has 3 times the pottasium of bananas.  Traditionally these leaves are used in various dishes.  The most popular one is the murungai illai varai (called poriyal in India) which is stir-fried leaves with coconut and sauted onions.  Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to get these leaves in the North East of USA.  I will be posting the varai recipe hopefully some day when I get these leaves.

The leaves are a bit difficult to wash.  Since they are so small, when washing they tend to stick to your wet hands.  After washing dry them in paper towel to avoid any clumping.

Normally when sothi is made with murungai illai, other vegetables are not added.  But I added these vegetables to make it a wholesome side dish and more nutritional.


  • 1 small potato
  • 1 small Chinese eggplant
  • 2 green chilies split lengthwise
  • 2 pearl onions peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • pinch of tumeric
  • Strand of curry leaves
  • ¼ cup drumstick (Moringa) leaves
  • Lemon juice


  • Peel and cut potato into about ½ inch cubes
  • Split eggplant lengthwise and then split lengthwise again. Chop them into about ½ inch cubes
  • Wash drumstick leaves and dry in a paper towel.
  • In a covered saucepan add potatoes, eggplant, water, salt and cover and cook for about 7-8 minutes (until potatoes are three-quarter cooked)
  • Add curry leaves, tumeric, and coconut milk and bring to a boil and cook uncovered for about 2 minutes.
  • Now add drumstick leaves and cook just one minute uncovered
  • Add lemon juice just before serving.

Yields: about 2-3 servings as a side dish with Idiyappam

4 thoughts on “Murungai Illai (Moringa leaves) Sothi

  1. How do I avoid the leaves from clinging to my hands while I wash them? Would apply oil to hands helps? I’ve a nice bunch of murunga ilai with me. But stopped mid way as leaves just won’t stop sticking. I’m going to try this dish today. Is Sodhi a Koottu? Or Avial?

    1. Sorry for the late reply – not sure why I didn’t get this alert. Sothi is almost like kulambu but without chili powder. I have the same difficulty with these leaves. They cling to my hands. The best way to do (at least what I do) is to wash them in a big bowl and dip your hand in a bowl full of water. When you do that the leaves will automatically fall into the water. Putting oil will not help and it might make them more sticky (combined water and oil)

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