Curry leaves are an oft-used ingredient in Indian cooking. Although not so popular in northern India and Bengal, curry leaves are used extensively in Maharashtra and much more so in the southern states. Curry leaves impart a wonderful aroma when they hit the oil and any seasoning that you make comes to life with these little leaves.
You would be surprised to know that in the street markets in Maharashtra, curry leaves are given free alongwith the greens that you buy. So when I went to Bangalore I was aghast when I had to buy them. Now in London again, most of the Asian shops give a free bunch of curry leaves at the till 🙂
In the UK, I have tried and tried to grow curry leaves, but without success. The plant I have, has been 6 inches tall (exactly 4 twigs and no sideways growth either) for the last 2 years, so much for British weather.
My sister however, has in the US, managed to not only grow a curry leaf plant , but a plant so good that its leaves are even shared with friends and family .
Oh wonderful British weather, where oh where is the sun?
Today’s recipe is from her kitchen and I am sure it will add some extra taste to many meals.
Curry leaves- 2 cups
Red chillies- 8
Urad (White lentil) dal- 2 tsp
Chana (Chickpea) Dal- 2 tsp
Tamarind- 1 small ball about the size of a lime
Sugar or Jaggery- 1 tsp
Hing (Asafoetida) powder – 1 tsp
Oil- 2 tbsp
Salt- to taste
1. Pull out the stems with leaves, likeso and then proceed to separate the leaves from the stalk. Rinse and spread out on a kitchen towel till completely dry.
It is extremely important that the curry leaves are absolutely dry, otherwise the chutney will not last very long.
2. In a pan or wok, start roasting the urad and chana dals, one after the other. Do roast them till golden brown on a medium flame taking care not to burn them, else the chutney will taste extremely bitter.
This is my sister’s famous cast iron pan. I think food tastes fabulous in cast iron.
3. Now add in the hing, roast on the dry pan for 10 seconds and quickly add in the oil. Now add in the curry leaves and fry on medium heat till crispy. Remember, you do not want to lose that beautiful green. I love trying to retain the colour of green in most of my cooking, it makes everything so much more beautiful.
This would take about 3-4 minutes. Keep aside.
4. Add some more oil, fry the red chillies for 30 seconds. Do not whatever you do, overzealously fry the chillies till they burn and turn black. Not only will they be completely useless, but they will also emit copious amounts of smoke and get your smoke alarm going, and leave you coughing for the next few minutes.
Remember, timing is key in this recipe- both for colour and taste.
5. Lastly, fry the tamarind for about 30 seconds. This is more to remove the moisture than frying it. Keep aside.
6. When all the fried ingredients have completely cooled, chuck them absolutely unceremoniously into the dry grinder or food processor. Honestly, this is the only step that you be careless about while making this entire recipe. Everything else, needs your ever vigilant gaze.
Grind coarsely. When completely cool, bottle it in a clean jar. Stays best in the refrigerator. Of course, it would do so outside, its just the cool surroundings might add a couple of weeks more life.
This recipe taste delicious with idlis, dosas or even rice. Just remember to add a huge dollop of ghee for extra taste.
We love it so much we even eat it on the side with roti and dal.