Curry Leaf, Curry Love

I've taken such a long hiatus from Weekend Herb Blogging that I've forgotten the rules! Yes, rules. No problem! I just need to go back to Cook Almost Anything, follow the rules, then send this post to the host of this week - Marija from Palachinka.

The herb or plant that deserves a little limelight in this week's WHB is Curry Leaf.

Distinctively aromatic due to the presence of volatile essential oils, curry leaves - fresh or dried, are usually added into hot oil (tempering) to exude its additive scent and enticing flavor to permeate all dishes; and to precipitate its nutrition to that little quantity of oil. Curry leaves provide a subtle spicy flavor to curries and many legume dishes. In addition to the presence of essential oils, curry leaves contain chlorophyll, beta carotene and folic acid, riboflavin, calcium and zinc.

Fresh leaves stay fresh at least for two to three weeks, when stored in refrigerator, sealed in a plastic bag. When left opened, they dry out easily. Dried leaves can be used in cooking, but in my opinion, the flavor of fresh curry leaves is superior and irreplaceable.

Curry leaves are easily available in Asia and not expensive (less than a dollar for a reasonable bunch of leaves). However, back in Bay Area California, they are comparatively more expensive. Previously, I have bought curry leaves in California at $14.99/lb. Though the weight does not constitute a pound and me paying $14.99 for it, it is still not considered cheap for that few leaves.

What are the environment conditions that encourage the cultivation and growth of curry leaves? I do not know. But I do know curry leaves are "hardy" plants that even insects and pests avoid. The leaves have a distinct curry aroma that apparently acts like a natural insecticide - this must be true because I never found a single hole ("insect bite") in any of the curry leaves.

Curry leaves also mark a distinctive spot in one of the dishes - Cereal Shrimps/Prawns, common and popular in Singapore and Malaysia. I have heard of attempts where in the absence of curry leaves, substitute such as basil was used to re-create this dish but I do not think it comes any closer to the real deal. When I have excess curry leaves, I also try to use them in Shrimps in Spicy Milk-Sauce. These are just some wonderful simple recipes you can try at home.

Recently, I have also made a simple chickpea dish with curry leaves. Robust flavors with minimal ingredients! Thanks to curry leaves :D

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