Curry Leaves or Kari Patta are not leaves of a tree that is used to make Curry. The leaves could be used in a curry, but the uses of the leaves go beyond curries to making chutneys, spiced powders & even medicines.
The Curry Tree or Karivepallai or Kadipatta (Scientific name: Murraya koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India. It produces the leaves known as Curry leaves or Sweet Neem leaves. … Other names include Kari Patta (Hindi), which probably is a corrupt translation of Karuveppilai, noroxingha (Assamese), Bhursunga Patra (Oriya), Kadhi Patta (Marathi), Mithho Limdo (Gujarati) and KarapinchaSinhalese). (Wiki)
What I did not know was that the small black, shiny berries are edible, but their seeds are poisonous!
The leaves are very aromatic & are used as seasoning in the Southern regions of India & Sri Lankan. They are best used in their fresh form, they do not have a long life in the refrigerator & lose the flavor. They may be stored in a freezer for quite some time, but this results in considerable loss of flavor too. Traditionally, Curry Leaves are added to the hot oil in the cooking pan before any other ingredients are added. As they toast, the leaves start to release aromas and flavors which will infuse the dish cooked with it. The leaves of the Curry Tree are also used as a herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Their properties include much value as an antidiabetic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, anti-hypercholesterolemic etc. (Wiki)
I have my own little Curry Leaf Plant growing in a pot indoors. I am also fortunate enough to have a steady bulk supply of these leaves from a friend who has a big tree in his backyard. One time he got me a grocery bag full of curry leaves which resulted in this Spiced Powder.
In South India these powders are used as a condiments. I have however found myriad uses of these.. I sprinkle some on my steamed vegetables & salads for a nice spicy crunch, use it in the rice, brown or white & fluff it up to have an instant aromatic side dish. I have even used them to stuff vegetables & breads. So this spiced powder is a must have in my kitchen. I have not followed any recipe here… there are a variety of Spiced or Podi Powder (as they are called) available, made with different spices…each one having their own distinct aroma.. This one is mine & it has worked pretty well so far.
- 1 Teaspoon + 1 Teaspoon Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- 5-6 Red Dry Chilli
- 1/4 Cup Chana Dal (Dried Split chickpeas or garbanzos) or Dalia ( roasted Black Grams – found in Indian Groceries)
- 1/4 Cup Urad Dal (split & dehusked black lentils)
- 1.5 Teaspoons Whole Coriander Seeds
- 1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 1 Teaspoon Peppercorns
- 5-6 Cloves of Garlic
- 2.5 Cups of packed Curry Leaves
- 1 Teaspoon Amchoor Powder (Dried Mango powder)
In a pan heat 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the fresh curry leaves to the oil. Take care as the moisture in the fresh leaves will make the oil sizzle & splutter. At low heat, toss the leaves & kinda roast them till they start changing to dark green & getting crispy without browning them. Set aside when done.
Heat the rest of the oil. Add the mustard seeds & the red dry chilli. When the seeds start to splutter, add all the other ingredients (except the roasted curry leaves) & roast till aromatic & the lentils start to slightly brown. Add the Curry Leaves & toss to combine. Stir for about 2-3 Minutes & switch off the heat.
Cool the mix & grind it to a rough powder. (No water should be used). Store in airtight containers. Will stay for several months.