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Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Curry Leaf, Spices | 6 comments

The Spice Series: Curry Leaf: Culinary Uses


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This is a continuation of my Spice Series. Welcome to my information on Curry Leaf!

**The first and most important thing to know about curry leaf is that it is NOT curry powder. It does not look like curry powder, it does not taste like curry powder, and curry leaves are NOT an ingredient in curry powder.

**Curry leaves, are, however, an important ingredient in many curry dishes, especially in India, Thailand, and other Asian countries.

**It is often used in a similar way that Americans use bay leaves: both are used in long simmering stews and soups and are a more passive aromatic addition rather than “THE main” spice for the dishes.

**It has a fragrant, citrus-like flavor and not only has amazing uses for culinary purposes, but also has been used in Ayruvedic medicine for centuriesIt would also be a wonderful addition in anyone’s gardenand can be grown at home.


This post is about the Culinary Uses of Curry Leaves.

Click here for my information on the Medicinal Benefits of Curry Leaves. Click here for my post on How to Grow Curry Leaf.


Culinary Uses:

curry leaf

**Curry leaf is from a tree that is a member of the citrus family, so it is no surprise that it tastes citrus-like as well: its’ flavor can be compared to half lemon and half orange.

**Curry leaf is most often used in the kitchens of South India, where you will see it used in a similar way that Western cultures use bay leaf: simmering in soups and stews. However, unlike bay leaves, which people debate whether or not you can eat them, curry leaves are edible.

**It is also used in other Asian countries including Sri Lanka, Burma, Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand. In these eastern cuisines, you will find curry leaf used in curries, lentil stews (‘dals’), samosas, chutneys, and breads. This is especially the case in naan, a flatbread served with almost every meal in India. They add the curry leaf to the dough as well as on top of the naan.


**Sometimes, curry leaves are used in Indian cooking by sautéing them in sizzling oil at the beginning of cooking, because that helps make them crunchy and helps produce more of their fragrant aroma.

**Other times, curry leaves are added late in the cooking process as that also helps bring out their fragrant aroma, but not the crunchiness.

**You will also find recipes that often call for one curry leaf for the beginning boil and one for the last minutes of the cooking.


**Curry leaf pairs well with these spices: Allspice, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel seed, Fenugreek seed, Ginger, Mustard seed, Tamarind, and Turmeric.

**It complements recipes featuring: Beans, Cabbage, Chutneys, Curries, Eggplant, Lentils, Okra, Rice, Seafood, and Soups.


**Here are ways to add more curry leaf to your diet:

• Add fresh curry leaves to salads and salad dressing.

• Add them to seafood or meat stews.

• Add them to your homemade chili recipes.

• Add a few fresh leaves to chicken or vegetable soups.

• Use it instead of bay leaf, for a new twist to a ‘tried and true’ recipe.

• Add curry leaf to your marinades.

• Make curry recipes that use curry leaf.

• Make curry leaf pesto (1 cup curry leaves, ½ red onion, 2 large green chilies, garlic, ginger, pepper, salt, lime juice) and use it as a spread on sandwiches or on pasta.



**Most local Asian markets/stores should have curry leaves for purchasing. They are available fresh, frozen, or dried. Fresh leaves are the most flavorful and thus are the best. If you cannot find them at a store, here is an idea for one to purchase online.

**Fresh leaves are often sold on the stem, you need to strip the leaves off and use them and discard the stem. Look for bright green leaves that do not have any signs of browning or bruising. Store fresh leaves in a sealed bag in the refrigerator. They will keep for two weeks in this way.

**You can also freeze fresh curry leaves, and they will keep for up to 3 months, but they will lose some of their fragrance/flavor, and they will most likely turn an unattractive black.

**Dried curry leaves are inferior in taste, but sometimes that is all that is available. Dried curry leaf will keep for about 1 year, if stored in an airtight container away from heat and light.


**Do YOU use Curry Leaves in your cooking?! If so, I would love it if you leave a recipe or two in the comment section below!

**Don’t forget to click here for my post on the Medicinal Benefits of Curry Leaves.

**Click here for my post on How to Grow Curry Leaf.

**For more of my posts on Spices, click here for my Spice Series page!


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DISCLOSURE: > In order for me to support my blogging activities, I occasionally may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I only recommend products or services I have personally used myself and trust. 
By Cris Daining


  1. Very cool! I’ve never head of curry leaves so no, I’ve never used it before or have any recipes to list. I love that it is used like Bay leaves here just in a different region of the world. It’s great learning about new things. Thanks for sharing with us over at the Homeacre Hop! Please join us again soon!
    Mary 🙂

    • Thanks for writing! I did not know much about curry leaves either, but I have been finding a bunch of recipes that use them, so I am excited to start trying them out! I am glad you enjoyed the info! Thanks for visiting my site! 🙂

  2. I’ve become enamored of South Indian cooking which began with idli Rawa – a flying saucer shaped puffy savory cake containing semolina flour & curry leaf. I’ve since graduated to the more complex fermented rice idli recipe where the batter can also be used for dosa – Indian pizza-like flatbread with curry leaf. Delicious!

    • Awesome recipes! Thanks! I have been falling in love with Indian food over the last few years, and I am always looking for some new recipes to check out. Thanks for these ideas. I can’t wait to try them!

  3. Thank you for your explanation of Curry Leaf and how to use it. I have a plant in the garden but never used it because I thought it was a mistake since it didn’t smell like curry….I will now try it out in some dishes and try to incorporate it into my diet.

    • Wonderful! I hope you have fun with your curry leaf! Thanks for visiting and commenting!


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