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Curry Leaf (on stem) $29.99 per lb.- do you leave out?

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  • Rella Dec 28, 2011 11:29 AM
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Is this a usual/normal price? I once bought curry leaves, without the stem. They lasted a few days (I didn't expect more.) But I tried freezing the remaining ones, as I recall, but once frozen, they were as tasteless and odorless as they were fresh.

These stemmed currry leaves were tempting (back in October 2011) because they were beautiful. Also they were twice the size of the wee ones I bought previously and used.

Would you just omit curry leaves in 'any' Indian recipe? Or would you just not make the recipe all-together. I'm asking in general terms, because I have no specific recipe that I am referring to.

It's kinda like - to me -- if I didn't have a bay leaf, would I not make the recipe. Or am I mistaken in this.

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  1. I would make the recipe. but keeping in mind the amount you probably need for a recipe, the cost seems like it would be pretty low--you won't need anything close to a pound.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cocktailhour

      The grocery store I am speaking of packages their leaves with stems in packages that are average price of $5-6 - no picking out your own :-))

    2. I wonder for the future if these would freeze better if put in oil or butter?

      Just a thought. Because some of the herbs that may not do well frozen plain may be better this way.

      1. Grow your own, or find a better priced Indian grocer. When Mr. Pine (from India) and I first were married, we were poor students, and I had to leave out so many expensive ingredients that we probably had no idea how a dish was really supposed to taste!

        6 Replies
        1. re: pine time

          I hope you are able to afford the ingredients now, or are growing your own.

          I will probably never grow my own, and I suppose if I really thought these beautiful curry leaves would improve the taste, I would bow down to the price.

          When you buy them, if you do buy them, do you prefer to buy larger ones, say in the size range of a large bay leave, or do you like the little feathery looking ones?

          1. re: Rella

            Luckily, our financial picture improved over the years! I now stock a full pantry of Indian and other spices, so recipes actually taste like they're supposed to (favorite is saffron, which we get from India). I like the smaller curry leaves, and I buy the plant each year for our garden. Indian friends have a "curry tree,", with leaves more bay-leaf sized, and I don't like the flavor nearly as much as my little ones.

            1. re: pine time

              Do you know what kind of climate the plants like? We have cold winters here but grow lots of herbs in our warm summers. Wonder if they would work here (Minnesota).

              1. re: karykat

                I grow a plant of this for many years now here in NJ. I leave it outside for the Summer months and bring it inside in the Fall, since it is tropical.
                http://www.logees.com/Murraya-koenigi...

                1. re: karykat

                  Well, you have to remember that India's climate is hot and often humid. I live in southern CA, so heat isn't a problem. However, a friend in a colder clime successfully grows the fuzzy ones in a pot indoors.

                  1. re: pine time

                    Yes, indoors should be fine if it is too chilly even in Summer.....

          2. A handful of leaves should only cost you $2-3. My usual store sells the fresh leaves for $24.99/lb, and 10-12 stalks only cost me about $2. I now have my own plants at home, so I can pick fresh as needed, but I do buy ocassionally when my leaves are too small. There are a couple different varieties of curry leaves -- one has dark green, big elongated leaves, while another has a light green, rounder leaf. I have 2 plants -- one of each variety. The rounder leaves have more scent to them, IMO.

            Also, you can freeze them just fine. Just put them in a ziplock bag and freeze. When you need them, rinse quickly under cold water and then add to your dish. For frozen leaves, I usually add in a few more than what the recipe calls for.

            If you really don't have any on hand, then you can omit them, but they do have a unique smell and taste, so it would change the recipe if you don't use them. One of my favorite scents in the world is the smell of sauteeing onion, mustard seeds, and curry leaves. :)

            2 Replies
            1. re: boogiebaby

              Thanks for the information on freezing. I'm a big advocate of freezing.

              At the store that carries them, one has to purchase them as they've bagged them and priced them. The cheapest bag was $5.55. That's fine with me if I can freeze what I don't use. Thanks a million.

              1. re: Rella

                I freeze mine as well, on the stem in ziploc bags. not quite as good as fresh, but they work fine. just use a few more.
                I grew up in a place where curry leaves weren't available but that never stopped my mother from making Indian food (mainly maharashtrian or south indian, which use a lot of curry leaves) all the time. So I wouldn't let a lack of leaves stop you.
                On the other hand, to me there is nothing quite so intoxicating as the smell of fresh curry leaves frying in the kitchen. They can really add a lot to south indian style dal or vegetable dishes. So no, they aren't as necessary as, say, salt or coriander or cumin or mustard seeds might be, but I think you'll be happy if you splurge and get some. However, only get them if they look fresh (I prefer the light green kind) because if they are too old they won't add as much and they won't freeze as well.
                BTW, that price does seem awfully high. Here in NYC I can get pretty decent sized packs of leaves at the Indian grocery store for $1.00.

            2. I also buy just 2-3$ at a time when my plant has too many baby leaves. The ones from the store last a really long time in the fridge, like maybe a month. I also don't think they freeze well. I have frozen them from time to time and find that they lose all of their fragrance. Some people also dehydrate them, but once again, you lose a lot of flavor and fragrance when you do this. Leaving them out of a recipe would completely alter the overall flavor of the dish. Though you only use a handful in most dishes, they give an important flavor.

              1. In the UK a big bag of fresh curry leaves on stems is about 50p in supermarkets (less than a dollar).
                In the fridge they dehydrate eventually but retain much of their flavour; they last months.
                They are a huge part of the flavour of many curries. If a recipe calls for them then I think they are essential to the recipe.

                1. I certainly wouldn't leave them out of any dish that calls for them in significant number. To follow your analogy, a bay leaf is often used to subtly perfume a dish in a way many people don't even detect. Curry leaves, on the other hand, are frequently deployed in quantity and pack a powerful, wonderful punch that can basically define a dish.

                  Don't let the per-pound price scare you. We are, after all, talking about leaves---they don't weigh more than a feather. Even for a dish that calls for a dozen or more curry leaves, you're probably not talking more than a couple dollars. Also, If they're pre-wrapped in large and thus pricey containers, any grocer worth their salt ought to be happy to repackage a smaller amount for you.

                  I used to think they froze well, but have lately decided they freeze well only for short periods. Anything more than a few weeks and I agree...tasteless and odorless.

                  1. $29.99 PER POUND! But how much were you going to buy? When I buy fresh on the stem, a small package costs only a fraction of that, but then I'm buying only a small fraction of a pound. I'd get it.

                    1. That is one of my favorite and irreplaceable tastes. A pound of them would be about a peck, I'd think! I usually buy a couple of packs at Little India in Manhattan - much cheaper than Kalustyan's- freeze them, and supplement them with the dried ones when I run out. You have to use about double of the dried to get where you want to go.

                      1. Most Indian/Pakistani stores have curry leaves now. Just buy what you need fresh and dont freeze. No point in that