Have most people been using curry leaves for ages and kept this culinary gem secret?! Go on, add to the list of people, roll your eyes and exclaim you’ve been using them for years. However, on the off chance your curry leaf experience has been either non-existent or reliant solely on crumbly, uninspiring dried curry leaves from a jar with a long best before date, start Googling recipes now.
My first real curry leaf awakening was thanks to a fantastic Afghan restaurant in Dubai in the form of a simple rice dish cooked with a handful of leaves. I have never been a fan of rice but the flavour from the curry leaves made it a “more, please” kind of side.
I have since discovered that fresh leaves (sold still attached to a thick branchy stem) freeze very well and, on running out of supplies from India and Dubai, the Sri Lankan shops a few hundred metres from my London home sell them in bags mysteriously stored behind the counter (75p for twice the amount in the photo). They also smell lovely – I haven’t ruled out using some stems as a scented greenery arrangement in the kitchen but for some reason this seems wrong and/or pretentious and/or “smug hipster vegan”, which I’m not.
I find the leaf easy to eat/digest, delicately citrus-y, bay leaf-y and curry-y and utterly delicious with rice, potatoes and, a recent favourite, in abundance on, in, under roasting chicken (mine being with lemon zest, black pepper and grated ginger too – an ingredient combination revelation). But don’t even entertain the idea of using dried leaves as a substitute because other than the dulled taste, the fresh leaves taste good wet (as in boiled rice) and crisp fried (as in with a roast chicken) and dried leaves will leave you wondering why on earth someone would write a post – an ode, if you will – to curry leaves.