© Denzil Green
Curry Leaves have an aroma reminiscent of curry and citrus fruit, with a slight and very mild bitter after taste.
They look somewhat like very small leaves from a lemon tree (if you’ve ever seen those leaves.) They are long for their size, narrowing to a point.
Fresh ones are far superior to the dried, though it’s much easier to get the dried in the UK and North America.
Fresh ones should be shiny, dark green, with no yellow on them and not wilted. They are sold with the branch and stems attached. Remove from the branch and discard the stems. In ethnic stores, they will be sold in chillers in plastic bags.
Dried ones are best bought whole; ones that still have flavour will have an olive-green hue to them.
The leaves are used in cooking in southern India (in areas as the state of Kerala) and Sri Lanka, as well as other places in southern Asia such as Burma (aka Myanmar), Fiji and Mayalsia.
Curry Leaves come from a plant called “Murraya koenigii.” The tree only grows 6 ½ to 16 feet (2 to 5 metres) tall. There are about 20 leaves per branch. They grow closely together.
If you look to buy a plant to grow indoors so that you can always have fresh Curry Leaves, don’t confuse this Curry Leaf plant with another sometimes referred to as “Curry Plant” as well. That one, “Helichrysum italicum”, is not used in cooking.
To clarify, you don’t make standard curry powder from these by drying up the leaves and grinding them. Curry Leaves aren’t used in any curry spice mixture.
However, dried leaves can be ground into a curry leaf powder and used as a spice. Curry leaf powder is often made as a blend with other spices and herbs.
You can grind fresh leaves up, or pulverize them in a blender with a liquid. You can also chop them up and use them in dishes.
Stir fry the dried ones for a minute first to waken the flavour before other ingredients are added (fresh ones will splatter in hot oil; dried ones won’t, but burn very quickly and easily.) After this, they can be used whole or crushed.
Dried ones can be ground to a powder, on their own or with other aromatics.
2 g dried curry leaves = ⅓ cup = about 60 dried leaves of various sizes
Store fresh leaves in a sealed container or tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Or let air-dry until brittle, then store in a sealed jar or container.
You can also freeze them. Freezing is better than drying, though there will still be some flavour and aroma loss.
Called “Barsunga” in Bengali.