Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jan 30, 2013 09:29 AM

Is there a reasonable subsitute for curry leaves?

The COTM 660 Curries thread inspired me to get the book, albeit after you all had finished your thread.

I'm going to do a lentil recipe tonight (Red & Yellow Lentils with Garlic and Curry Leaves), but didn't plan ahead well enough to get curry leaves. Is there a reasonable substitute? I do have several different dry curry powder mixes on hand and most raw ingredients that go into a curry powder.

I recognize the dish may not be quite the same if I omit one of the key ingredients (it is right there in the title, after all!) but I'm willing to bet something a little different might still be tasty- just trying to get the flavors close, if possible.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Does Mr. Iyer suggest a substitute?

    1 Reply
    1. re: sr44

      No, and there is no substitute. You can buy them on amazon.

    2. curry leaves and curry powder are totally unrelated. They don't taste anything alike so curry powder can't be used as a substitute.

      That said, personally I don't think there is any good substitute for curry leaves. They are one of the most unique ingredients I can think of.

      1 Reply
      1. re: C. Hamster


        Curry powder and curry leaves are completely unrelated. Curry powder is a mixture of spices. Curry leaves are from a plant and offer a sort of smoky flavour.

        If you don't have curry leaves, omit. There is no substitute.

      2. There's not really a good substitute that I know of (definitely not curry powder, as the two are totally unrelated), but you might try a bit of lime zest, or kaffir lime leaf (if you have it). A couple of bay leaves with some lime zest might perk up the dish a bit, too, but it won't be the same as curry leaves.

        2 Replies
        1. re: biondanonima

          Good to know, thanks to you both. I was definitely making assumptions that the two were related since I don't have any experience with curry leaves. I can try the zest/bay leaf approach.

          1. re: erin_grogan

            Mr. Iyer says not to substitute. He wrote the cookbook.

        2. Curry leaves have a very unique flavor. They are nutty, slightly funky and aromatic. I can't think of a good substitute -- kaffir lime is too acidic. If you leave out the leaves, you may still end up with something close to the flavors of a North Indian dal, which isn't half bad either.

          1. I agree, do not attempt a substitute.

            It seems to me that you are trying to avoid a trip to the Indian store but if at home you have an Indian or Pakistani brand of boxed mixed masala that has ground curry leaves in it according to the ingredients on the back of the box, you can use a tiny pinch of that in your daal and it won't be the same as fresh curry leaves but will give curry leaf tones.

            2 Replies
            1. re: luckyfatima

              I don't have time to go to the store today, but certainly can over the weekend. Was just hoping to try something new tonight but I am reading loud and clear that I should a) pick a different recipe for tonight and b) try this one when I can get together the required ingredients.

              Much appreciated!

              1. re: erin_grogan

                Agree with all of the above, including your decision to try another recipe tonight (in 660 Curries there are several red lentil recipes that don't call for curry leaf). But mostly just writing to mention that COTM threads are never really "finished", if you get a chance to cook from 600 Curries, please do consider adding your report to the the thread.