The ultimate guide of curry leaves. Get tips to buying, using and storing curry leaves. Here's the step by step guide to cooking with curry leaves the correct way to extract the best flavours, aroma and health benefits. Also, get the substitute for curry leaves in this article.
Murraya Koenigii, Sweet Neem Leaves, Meethi Neem, Kadhi Patta
Vegetal, aromatic, mild citrusy
Curry leaves (dried), combination of half a lemon zest and 1 bay leaf
Curry leaves are often used in many Indian dishes throughout Southeast Asia, where the influence of Southern Indian cuisine is most relevant. Just like bay leaves in western cuisine, curry leaves are added in Southeast Asian and Indian cuisines.
Many might have guessed that curry powder is made from curry leaves. This is however not true. Curry powder is made from a mixture of several types of herbs and spices such as chilli powder, turmeric powder, fennel seeds and more. Curry leaves are from the curry tree which belongs to the citrus family. While curry leaves may or may not be a component of curry powder, they definitely do not taste anything like curry powder at all. Instead, curry leaves taste just like leaves. Curry leaves need to be tempered for the fragrant aroma to be released.
Curry leaves are one of the most popular ingredients used in Ayurvedic medicine, the world’s oldest traditional medical systems which originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. Curry leaves are consumed along with dishes as an added ingredient as it contains Vitamins A, B, B2, C, calcium, and iron. Also known as sweet Neem leaves, they are filled with a natural chemical known as carbazole which is very helpful in stimulating the digestive system to break down food easily.
Curry leaves are also known to be high in anti-oxidants. A study shows that the anti-oxidants extracts from curry leaves are helpful in protecting from the toxic effects of anti-inflammatory medication for gastric. The anti-oxidant effects have also been proven to be useful in extending the shelf life of meat. That means, curry leaves has the potential to be a source of natural food preservatives.
In beauty practices, eating curry leaves help the hair to grow healthily and prevents greying of hair. Boiling curry leaves in milk and then applying it on the skin helps to soothe allergy and rashes.
How to Choose
Fresh dark green colour leaves without any bruising. There should also be no browning on the leaves.
Strip the curry leaves from the stem. Rinse and dry them thoroughly using a kitchen towel. Keep them in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a month. Freezing the curry leaves helps to make them last longer.
When using a ziplock bag to keep the curry leaves before freezing them, leave a small opening to allow a straw in. Carefully remove the air from the ziplock bag through the straw. This will help to retain the colour and flavour of the curry leaves without bruising them.
Where to Buy
In Malaysia, Singapore or India, they are sold in wet markets or supermarkets. In other Asian countries like Indonesia or Western countries, it will be tougher to find them. You may find fresh curry leaves in Indian grocers or at a speciality plant nursery. Otherwise, selected Asian grocers may sell dried curry leaves.
How to Use or Prepare
Step 1 of 2
Rinse curry leaves and remove them from the stem when cooking. To do so, hold a sprig of curry leaves using one hand and carefully strip the leaves from the stem with the other. If using dried curry leaves, hydrate them in warm water until soft before using.
Step 2 of 2
When using curry leaves in dishes, temper them in oil to release the flavour and aroma. Though not common, curry leaves can also be consumed raw, steeped in tea and used for medicinal purposes.