Tooting Mama’s guide on how to use fresh curry leaves in your cooking

Tooting Mama’s guide on how to use fresh curry leaves in your cooking

I have been using fresh curry leaves in my cooking ever since I can remember. My mum always had a stash of curry leaves, fresh and dried stored in her kitchen. And just like her, fresh curry leaves are a mainstay on my spice shelf.  But I have started to notice that fresh curry leaves are going mainstream and are turning up in all sorts of dishes, not just your favourite Indian curry. If you want to know how to use fresh curry leaves, here’s my guide on how to use fresh curry leaves in your cooking.

How to use fresh curry leaves in your cooking

Curry leaves are generally used in Indian and Sri Lankan cooking and are often incorporated into the initial stages.

The best way to use fresh curry leaves is in the early stages of cooking. Take a pinch of the leaves, fresh or dried, and add them to the hot oil along with the whole spices, chilli, followed by onion, garlic and ginger.

When the leaves hit the hot oil, there is a burst of fragrance – it’s a nutty, smokey yet hugely pleasant smell that adds depth to the overall flavour of the dish.

Curry leaves, which is better, fresh or dried?

If I can I will always try and get fresh curry leaves, the smell and taste is so much stronger than dried curry leaves.

If you can only find dried curry leaves, then in general double up on the quantity.

How do I store your fresh curry leaves?

If you have managed to get your hands on a bunch of fresh curry leaves, you will want to try to extend their shelf life for as long as possible.

I have found the best way to store fresh curry leaves is to pop them into a ziplock freezer bag, seal, and store in the freezer, and use as and when needed. Simple and easy.

Where can I buy fresh curry leaves?

If you are in the vicinity of an Indian or Sri Lankan grocery store, then beat a path to their door!

My local Sri Lankan grocer has a stash in the fridge, and I will buy three or four packs at a time and store in my freezer.

Curry leaves, the dried variety are starting to appear on supermarket shelves. But if you are looking for fresh curry leaves there are a few online retailers, like Amazon, who sell fresh curry leaves.

What if I can’t find fresh curry leaves? What else can I use?

I’ve looked around for advice on suitable alternatives and advice ranges from kaffir lime leaves, basil leaves, bay leaves, lime zest.

Curry leaves have a unique, and distinct fragrance and flavour, adding a richness to Indian and Sri Lankan cooking. Personally, if I couldn’t find curry leaves, I’d cook without, and make the most of the other spices I have in my cooking. (But that’s just me!)

Recipes with that use curry leaves

Retailers selling fresh curry leaves

If you are struggling to find fresh curry leaves locally, here are a few online retailers who will deliver fresh curry leaves to your door. Please note I’m not recommending these shops, they just happen to sell fresh curry leaves.

  • Amazon sells fresh curry leaves
  • Asian Foodie, sells fresh curry leaves delivers across London and across the UK
  • Spices of India is an online retailer specialising in Asian ingredients, including fresh curry leaves
  • The Asian Cook Shop sells a wide variety of Asian ingredients, including fresh curry leaves

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