Thursday, October 1, 2009

Playing Around with Curry Leaves

The curry leaf is a new favored ingredient in the Crispy Kitchen. I recently discovered the pleasures of the India Bazaar in Albany, NY, (1321 Central Avenue) where they stock a diverting selection of dried beans, spices, barfi (brightly colored "chickpea fudge"),Indian groceries, sacks of heavenly-scented basmati rice, and fresh produce. Bags of fresh curry leaves are something that I picked up on my last several visits, and upon the advice of the grocer, have stuck them in my pots of steamed rice for a wonderful scent and flavor.

Curry leaves look similar to bay leaves (my husband says they look like they fell off a house plant) being glossy green ovals with pointed tips. They come from a small shrub, Murraya koenigii, which is grown throughout India and South Asia. The leaves do get softened during cooking, so I leave them in my dishes, but you can remove them like a bay leaf from finished dishes and their pungent flavor and scent will remain. You can find out more about cooking with and the botanical and medicinal properties of curry leaves and other plants at this informative website.

One can freeze curry leaves, but like cilantro, their flavor is much reduced, so it is best to use them fresh. I recently tried out this recipe for Parsi Potatoes with Egg and it was lovely, sort of like an exotically-spiced Potato Frittata. The recipe was a bit time-consuming, but the flavors were spectacular.

I thought I would send this post about curry leaves over to Weekend Herb Blogging, the weekly blog event that celebrates the Vegetable Kingdom. WHB is headquartered by Haalo at Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once and is being hosted this week by Serbian food blogger Palachinka. Head on over to see what other interesting leaves, herbs, fruit and other plant ingredients are being featured by great cooks from around the world at the WHB roundup after October 5th.


Marija said...

Never had a chance to taste curry leaves :( Hope one day a market like that will open in Belgrade.

Thank you so much for this informative entry!

Arlene Delloro said...

I learn a great deal from your blog, Rachel. It sounds like a wonderful market you've stumbled upon.

ann low said...

Oh..I love the smell of the curry leaves which I planted this at home.
(you can find this in my blog) In Asian kitchen, curry leaves used to cook in curries like chicken or fish.

Alicia Foodycat said...

I like the sound of curry-scented frittata! I've been meaning to try a Malaysian chicken curry leaf dish that Dharm posted recently.

Kalyn Denny said...

I really like the flavor of curry leaves but only had them once, from San Francisco. I hear the plant is fairly easy to grow inside, but haven't tried it yet. Now you've inspired me to see if the Indian grocer here carries them!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Shhhhh, don't tell him - he thinks the storecupboard is mine...with the mess and all. Guess what I found a few days ago - a packet of dried curry leaves :-) Thanks for keeping the secret