Curry leaves is an aromatic and healthy herb used very widely in Indian recipes, especially in south Indian cooking. In this post I am sharing details and tips on how to buy these leaves, store them, their uses in various recipes and health benefits.
Curry leaves are known as karipatta in Hindi, karuveppilai in Tamil, Karivepaku in Telugu & karibevu in Kannada. Along with Indian cuisine these leaves are also very widely used in Sri Lankan cooking, Cambodian cooking too.
These leaves have a wonderful distinct aroma and adds so much flavor to the dish in which they are used. They have a very slight bitter taste, a mild pungent aroma with mild notes of lemon grass, citrus and anise. Read on to learn how to buy, store & use curry leaves along with their many health benefits.
Whenever you go through any south Indian recipe, you may find one ingredient common called curry leaves! There are good chances that you would have even found a largish green leaf similar to neem leaves in your Indian food and that again is a curry leaf.
While it is mostly dismissed as a mere herb for flavoring and tempering any dish, these leaves have more to them. They can be used in so many ways in so many recipes and also very very healthy.
If you are new to using fresh curry leaves in your recipes, this post will help you learn more about them. Learn how to buy, how to use curry leaves and store them.
What Are Curry Leaves?
Curry leaves are the leaves of the plant called curry tree also known as curry leaf plant (Murraya koenigii). The fresh leaves of this plant are used as a herb predominantly in Indian cooking.
These leaves are from light to dark green, slightly largish and thick. They are oval in shape with narrow pointing edges. These leaves are available year around and one of the very commonly grown plant in Indian subcontinent.
Curry leaves have a distinct taste and flavor that is hard to describe. They have a very slight bitter taste when eaten raw but when added to dishes they lend a wonderful citrusy notes & nutty aroma. They also have slight taste of anise, lemon grass etc.
These leaves are very widely used in Asian cooking, Indian dishes that every country has one or many local names for it. In India curry leaves go by the names
- Karipatta- Hindi
- Karuveppillai- Tamil
- Mitho Limado- Gujarati
- Daun kari- Malyasia
One common question I have often get from readers outside India are if curry leaves taste like curry powder?
Curry leaves have nothing to do with curry powder. The term curry in these leaves actually means dark in south Indian languages. So you cannot use these leaves in recipes that call for curry powder.
More About Curry Leaf Plants
Curry tree is also known as curry leaf tree or curry bush or curry plant in different countries. It is a tropical to sub tropical tree that thrives in warm climate. It is a part of citrus family.
It is a thick bushy tree that grows up to 6m. It is one of the very commonly grown tree in India. You could even grow curry leaf plants in pot, prune to maintain certain length and get fresh curry leaves all around the year.
How To Buy Fresh Curry Leaves?
Curry leaves are very easily available in India. You will mind them in farmer’s markets, vegetable marts and in produce section of supermarkets.
Most of the street vendors who sell vegetables door to door, offer some curry leaves for free when you purchase vegetables 🙂
In the United States & other countries you will these leaves in Indian grocery stores, Asian stores. If fresh leaves are not available you may find frozen leaves in packets.
While buying fresh curry leaves look for bright green leaves that are super fresh & flavorful. These leaves stay good for quiet sometime in refrigerator and do not wilt like coriander leaves. Even if the leaves dry, you can still use them as the flavor remains intact in dried curry leaves.
How To Use Curry Leaves
Tempering or tadka is the cooking technique where you add spices like mustard seeds, cumin seeds to hot oil or ghee (clarified butter) to bloom them. This hot oil along with spices is added to the dish to round off the flavors.
Along with mustard seeds, curry leaves are typically used in most of the south Indian dishes. When sautéed or fried, curry leaves turn very aromatic and add a wonderful flavor to any dish.
Curry leaves are also used while making chaas. We also make curry leaves chutney, rice, rasam and gravy very often.
Storing Curry Leaves
If you buy curry leaves in bulk, you can store them in refrigerator for a week. First of all remove the leaves from the sprig. They come off very easily in onw swift motion.
Once removed from stalk, soaked them in salted water or water mixed with few drops of vinegar for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Spread the leaves on a plate and let them dry thoroughly.
Now you can store them in airtight container lined with a paper towel in refrigerator for a week.
Freezing Curry Leaves
If you want to store curry leaves for longer time, you can easily freeze them. Prepare them as mentioned above.
Transfer the curry leaves to zip lock bags or plastic bag or suitable containers and freeze. They keep well for 6 months. When required just remove from freezer and use.
Using Dried Curry Leaves
Unlike cilantro or mint leaves, curry leaves do not rot or wilt. They just dry and they are still edible perfectly.
Add the dried curry leaves or a large bowl & crush them thoroughly with your fingers. You can also add them to a dry ginger and make a fine powder. You can store this curry leaves powder in airtight container and use in any recipe that calls for curry leaves. You can also add this in various spice mix for added flavor.
Health Benefits Of Curry Leaves
Curry leaves are a power house of Iron and various other nutrition. These leaves are also rich in Vitamin A, B, amino acids and alkoliods.
These leaves are powerful antioxidants which helps in preventing various diseases. They protect us from oxidative damages, helps in strengthening the cardiovascular system.
Curry leaves helps in managing diabetes. As these leaves are rich in fiber they slow down the digestion and there by reduces the spike of blood sugar. They also help in maintaining blood glucose levels.
Curry leaves helps in reducing stress and anxiety with their pleasant aroma. These leaves are helps in treating nausea.
If you are looking to increase folic acid levels or treat anemia, curry leaves are one of the best options. They are full of iron and helps to improve folic acid levels.
What Does Ayurveda Say About Curry Leaves?
According to ayurveda, curry leaf is a nutrient dense herb which is beneficial to us in many ways. It is helps in flushing out toxins. They also help in fat loss, weight loss.
Curry leaves helps in reliving flatulence when consumed in empty stomach.
Curry leaves are wonderful for hair health. They help in increasing hair growth, reduces hair fall and maintain a healthy scalp.
Recipes That Use Curry Leaves
These aromatic leaves are used in many recipes and here are a few for you to try.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, they are absolutely not the same.
Again, no they are not even remotely same. They are two different herbs with completely different flavor profile.
Yes, they are very healthy and dense in various nutrients.
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Curry Leaves- How to buy, use & store
1 CUP = 250 ml
- Curry Leaves
- If you buy curry leaves in bulk, you can store them in refrigerator for a week. First of all remove the leaves from the sprig. They come off very easily in onw swift motion.
- Once removed from stalk, soaked them in salted water or water mixed with few drops of vinegar for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Spread the leaves on a plate and let them dry thoroughly.
- Now you can store them in airtight container lined with a paper towel in refrigerator for a week.
Freezing Curry Leaves
- If you want to store curry leaves for longer time, you can easily freeze them. Prepare them as mentioned above.
- Transfer the curry leaves to zip lock bags or plastic bag or suitable containers and freeze. They keep well for 6 months. When required just remove from freezer and use.
Using Dried Curry Leaves
- Unlike cilantro or mint leaves, curry leaves do not rot or wilt. They just dry and they are still edible perfectly.
- Add the dried curry leaves or a large bowl & crush them thoroughly with your fingers. You can also add them to a dry ginger and make a fine powder. You can store this curry leaves powder in airtight container and use in any recipe that calls for curry leaves. You can also add this in various spice mix for added flavor.