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what to do with fresh curry leaves?

steinpilz Nov 24, 2008 06:16 PM

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. cate_cooks RE: steinpilz Nov 24, 2008 06:22 PM

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

    1. a
      adventuresinbaking RE: steinpilz Nov 24, 2008 08:00 PM

      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
        steinpilz RE: adventuresinbaking Nov 25, 2008 02:06 PM

        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. v
        vevete RE: steinpilz Nov 24, 2008 08:02 PM

        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. sixelagogo RE: steinpilz Nov 25, 2008 01:40 AM

          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
            gordeaux RE: sixelagogo Nov 25, 2008 05:53 AM

            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
              sixelagogo RE: gordeaux Nov 26, 2008 02:59 AM

              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
                gordeaux RE: sixelagogo Nov 26, 2008 04:55 AM

                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
              steinpilz RE: sixelagogo Nov 25, 2008 02:11 PM

              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
                sixelagogo RE: steinpilz Nov 26, 2008 02:57 AM

                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
                bigjeff RE: sixelagogo Apr 12, 2009 07:30 PM

                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. e
                esstrink RE: steinpilz Nov 25, 2008 07:40 AM

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

                1. b
                  Brunhilde RE: steinpilz Apr 12, 2009 09:18 PM

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


                  1. CPla RE: steinpilz Apr 13, 2009 11:27 PM

                    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. m
                      mcaren RE: steinpilz Jan 10, 2011 06:06 PM

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

                      1. s
                        Stein the Fine RE: steinpilz Mar 8, 2011 04:24 AM

                        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. s
                          sushigirlie RE: steinpilz Mar 8, 2011 04:32 AM

                          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. buttertart RE: steinpilz Mar 8, 2011 09:24 AM

                            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. k
                              karykat RE: steinpilz Mar 8, 2011 09:38 AM

                              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
                                BCBrent RE: karykat Nov 23, 2012 09:22 AM

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

                                1. re: BCBrent
                                  buttertart RE: BCBrent Nov 23, 2012 09:09 PM

                                  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
                                    BCBrent RE: buttertart Nov 24, 2012 06:41 AM

                                    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
                                      boogiebaby RE: BCBrent Nov 24, 2012 03:18 PM

                                      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. p
                                pavlova RE: steinpilz Nov 24, 2012 04:55 AM

                                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
                                  steinpilz RE: pavlova Nov 24, 2012 12:30 PM

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

                                  @castorpman on Twitter

                                2. chefj RE: steinpilz Nov 24, 2012 04:34 PM

                                  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. g
                                    gd_fluffymon RE: steinpilz Jan 30, 2013 04:43 PM

                                    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
                                      PinchOfSalt RE: gd_fluffymon Jan 30, 2013 04:56 PM

                                      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. LMAshton RE: steinpilz Jan 30, 2013 05:37 PM

                                      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.


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