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what to do with fresh curry leaves?

I stumbled upon a local Indian market that had fresh curry leaves, I'd read about these for a while but this was the first time I'd acquired some.

What should I do with these curry leaves? I've already frozed 1/2, anticipating a productive learning curve for cooking with fresh curry leaves.


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  1. I love adding them to pretty much any kind of dal...they add a nice subtle flavor

    1. Aloo Gobi, or cauliflower and potato curry. I ran all over town looking for these and didn't find them. I am very envious of you.

      1 Reply
      1. re: adventuresinbaking

        Sorry, but as you're in Albany I'll say that I love hiking around New Paltz and in the Adirondacks - so I'm jealous too!

      2. Here's a good info page on curry leaves:

        And a couple of excellent easy recipes to experiment with the flavour:


        And this one for a twist on the Thanksgiving pumpkin dish:

        If you need a good cookbook, this is one of the best. Ms. Jaffrey is the godmother of Indian cuisine!
        Madhur Jaffrey's Quick And Easy Indian Cooking. by Madhur Jaffrey

        Good luck

        1. my favourite way to add curry leaves to dishes is at the end, and with mustard seed. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan, add 1 tsp black mustard seeds (cover this, they pop), after they pop, add a handfull of curry leaves...you can then add this flavored oil to anything as a finisher....it's a very nutty, herbaceous way to add umami to a veg. dish

          6 Replies
          1. re: sixelagogo

            ditto. I use them all the time like this either at the beginning of a dish, or at the end. I even do this for the pre-packaged masala blends (shan, hyderbadi, et al.) Curry leaves take things over the top. yum!

            For the op: be prepared for your house to smell like a real Indian kitchen / restaurant when you use them for the first time!

            1. re: gordeaux

              Have you ever used aseofetida??? holy cow !!! you know how some people hate the smell of indian food (i'm definately not one of them...),well asofetida puts me in their company...i can litereally smell it when my cupboard door is open a peek. That is some truly fetid stuff.

              1. re: sixelagogo

                I always use it. Yes, it reeks, BUT the smell goes away (or really calms down) after it's cooked. Love the flavor.

            2. re: sixelagogo

              I'm guessing that you add the leaves whole, how long would you saute them in oil and at what temperature (do they brown)? If I make a larger amount of flavoured oil can I save it in the fridge?

              Thanks to everyone for the suggestions!

              1. re: steinpilz

                use them whole...they kinda melt into any dish, just take off the stem. The oil is pretty hot, so it only takes maybe 5 seconds to get them crisp, then, if yer using it to finish a dish, pour the oil and everything into the dish yer making.

              2. re: sixelagogo

                sixelagogo, ya some indian chefs would call that tempering; sorta like finishing dishes with this very hot flavored oil. i use curry leaves at the very beginning in the same manner, removing them once they start getting brown and burnt (you'll know it) and then sauteing with that oil that is now intensely flavored. it is the most amazing ingredient!

              3. Just a quick tip if you buy more than you can use. They freeze beautifully in an airtight bag.

                1. I use them in a version of this Potatoes with Egg recipe from gourmet.


                  1. Many South Indian curries call for curry leaves to be added, usually cooked together with the onions at the beginning.

                    I do not remove the curry leaves, they go into the final dish and I eat them. Supposedly they have medicinal properties, but whatever, they taste fine.

                    I grow my own plant here, but the leaves freeze well in zipper bags. When I have to prune my plant, I freeze the best leaves - yes I can always get fresh ones but it just seems a shame to throw away those lovely big leaves. Silly maybe, but I console myself that at least I do not have to clip leaves from the plant for a while.


                    1. This is the recipe that introduced me to curry leaves -- I absolutely love this soup: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Mulligat...

                      1. After reading your post, I thought I remembered that a recipe for chana masala called for them. So I googled "chana masala" and curry leaves". There are 10 pages of results.

                        1. Buy Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries and go at it. There probably are 100-200 recipes in the book that call for curry leaves. Curry leaves are one of the most common and important ingredients in "south Indian" cooking.

                          1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7626...
                            I make this all the time.
                            The lemon rice is just basmati rice cooked pilaf-style with black mustard seeds, cumin, cardamom, clove, black peppercorns, 12 or so curry leaves, turmeric, chicken broth (cube), juice of a lemon stirred in at the end. My bastardization.

                            1. We used to have some in the yard where I used to live and I remember being surprised by them. Not really like curry at all.

                              I remember an anise smell. And lots of bees around in the summer, right? (Or am I mixing it up with something else.)

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: karykat

                                The curry leaves smell like the typical masala mix, curry!

                                1. re: BCBrent

                                  No they don't, they smell like curry leaves. A bit smoky, a bit bitter. just wonderful. One of those ingredients that is like nothing else.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    Hmm, Here we have a plant called a "Curry Plant" which smells exactly like curry, and the only curry leaves that I've cooked with were dried, and they smelled more like tea then, curry. So I hope you can understand my confusion.


                                    1. re: BCBrent

                                      A curry plant is not the same as a "curry leaf" plant. The curry plant is 'Helichrysum italicum' and the curry leaf plant is 'Murraya koenigii'. Two different plants.

                              2. I make a lot of South Indian and Sri Lankan food, so I use lots of curry leaves! Something a bit different is this sambol: a paste of fresh coconut and curry leaves and spices. I could live on it on rice or over egg hoppers. Here's the recipe (and you'll find other recipes using curry leaves on the site): http://www.lesauce.com/2010/07/curry-... In fact, I have a fresh coconut in the fridge, so this may be on the menu for tonight.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pavlova

                                  Thanks very much for this recipe, I'm looking forward to trying it!

                                  @castorpman on Twitter

                                2. Here is a recipe for Curry Leaf Masala
                                  And a Dry Curry
                                  There are tons of applications especially in South Indian, Burmese, Indonesian and Sri Lankan Cuisine

                                  1. South Indian recipe. Meat: mutton sukkha, chicken pepper fry, prawn masala. Veg: rice dishes, potatoes, any vegetable dishes.

                                    fry first until crispy then add back at the end so they are crispy when you eat them.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: gd_fluffymon

                                      They are often fried in some oil or ghee and added at the end as part of a yummy flavor boost. When the dish is almost finished, you heat the oil or ghee, toss in the curry leaves (typically also some black mustard seeds and/or cumin seeds), wait til the mustard seeds pop or the cumin seeds color, and dump the whole thing (hot oil, the seeds, the curry leaves) into the main part of the recipe. Very nice.

                                    2. Curry leaves are also used in a lot of Sri Lankan curry recipes. I'm married to a Sri Lankan and lived in Sri Lanka for nine years.

                                      There are mainly two ways they're used.

                                      1. Added to hot oil at the very beginning of the cooking, then add the onions, chillies, then garlic/ginger/lemongrass/rampe (pandan), then spices, then other ingredients.

                                      2. Tempered in oil along with onions or green chillies or whatever and added, along with some of the oil, at the end of the dish like a garnish.

                                      Or both.

                                      Curry leaves are also used quite a bit in Ayurvedic medicine.