Thursday, August 8, 2013

Curry Leaves Powder

Even the most conservative or careless eaters, those anti-gourmande, will be intrigued. This medium-hot condiment has breathtaking aroma of curry leaves. Do you remember that commercial for RedHot sauce : "I put that **** on everything"? That is exactly you would want to do with this powder.

Blog's Category: International, Awesome Findings

Curry Leaves Powder


No denial - I'm hooked. Once, it all started from making indian gun powder spice mix.
That's when I fell in love with exotic flavor of fresh curry leaves (do not confuse it with curry or curry powder). Led by my curiosity (blessing or punishment?), I discovered this recipe of popular South Indian condiment which has curry leaf as MIP of the recipe. Now I'm so excited to share it with you - I hope you will love it as much as I do.

In India, called Kariveppila Podi, this powdered condiment is used for idli, for indian bread or just for rice. Usually it is sprinkled on food right before serving. I use it mostly for rice.. BUT - I often use it as a table spice or, call it, emergency condiment - if something lacks flavor, seasoning or just is "off" for some reason - just shake or two of this Curry Leaves Powder will make a huge difference. Try!

What is it?

Ingredients (curry leaves, urad dal, red chili peppers, black peppercorn, asafoetida powder and salt) are dry-fried in a skillet and then ground into powder.

Taste Description

Did you ever tried to describe something or someone you are crazy about? It seems like you never have enough words to pass all your excitement onto your listener... Anyway.. I'll try.
Flavor is a king here - heavenly aromatic curry leaves befriended with black peppercorn fragrance and light scent of something else (asafoetida I think) will win you right away.
Then follows the "back of the tongue" taste - it's awesome too!
And then follows the spiciness level. It's kind of hard to define - we all have our own spice tolerance. Let's say, for me, inexperienced spicy food lover who can't stand over-spiced food, this Curry Leaves Powder is medium-spicy - one teaspoon of it sprinkled on a top of your portion of rice will bring it to lovely very tolerable "little fire" - exactly what I like.
And finally, this curry powder will give your bite nice crunchiness - tiny crumbs of dry-cooked urad dal will deliver that crunchy nibble we all crave.

How to Serve

I can't help myself - the words from that commercial come to me over and over again - "JUST SPRINKLE THIS **** ON EVERYTHING!"

Don't forget to keep this condiment in a fridge - this way it will last for a long time. Any dry condiment/powder containing oil, should be kept in a fridge to avoid becoming rancid.

Curry Leaves Powder
For about 2 cups of powder:
  • 2 bunch (about 60 leaves) fresh curry leaves (ask for in your local indian food shop)
  • 4 small dry red whole chili peppers
  • 2 tbs black peppercorns
  • 1 cup urad dal (light colored shelled dal - see my pictures below)
  • 2 pinches asafoetida (sometimes called hing)
  • 1/3 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 tbs flavorless olive oil

- In a skillet, heat olive oil and then add chili peppers, black peppercorn, urad dal and asafoetida. Fry it on a medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until urad dal becomes golden in color. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool down.

- Turn heat off and, on a same skillet, toss/stir curry leaves for some time (5 minutes).  Leave it for some time - leaves should become completely dry and crispy. When you try to bend the leaf - it has to break, not bend.

- When all ingredients are cooled down completely, grind them into medium coarse powder. Don't forget to add salt. Transfer into shaker and keep in a fridge. Enjoy!


- For grinding, I tried to use different tools - natural stone mortar, processor and electric coffee grinder. If you value your time and want to save your energy for something else - use electric coffee grinder.

This is asafoetida bought in my indian grocery. Still, I'm not sure what this funky smelling powder really does for the recipe but I obediently included it in a recipe. I have suspicion though that if one day I will forget to add it nothing critical happens.
Note, that I keep this small plastic bottle in a zip-lock bag. Otherwise it will bring my whole cardboard to a questionably pleasant overwhelming odor :)
Clockwise, starting from a largest pile of legumes: they are urad dal, then peppercorn, small pile of asafoetida and then dry chilies

Dumping all this into hot oil on a skillet.

Stir constantly...

It won't take long (matter of minutes) to get this nice tan

all cooked.. cooling down on a plate
Here is a hero! Curry leaves! Fresh, with *** kicking aroma!

Curry leaves are dry now. Some leaves are turned dark a bit. Your goal to retain green color when leaves are dry that's why you need to toss them on a still hot skillet but off the flame and then let them to finish to dry just leaving them alone on a skillet for some time.

My processor didn't do good job grinding it....

My cool, natural stone mortar and pestle... while cool and doing the job nicely, worn me out after first ten moves ( I should seriously think about including this exercise into my workout routine).

This lovely tool, child of a high-tech age, my electric coffee grinder, made an excellent job. Few seconds and, voila, it's ready. Looks like our home coffee grinder going to be dedicated to spice grinding exclusively and officially is going to be renamed into "Spice Grinding Machine".

What a lively-live green color!


  1. Replies
    1. Great! Tip: it is a perfect rescue table spice mix if something does not taste good enough for you - just sprinkle some curry leaves powder on top :)


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