23 October, 2009

Curry Leaves Chutney Powder: An Aromatic Affair!


Curry Leaves Chutney Powder

“What are they?” asked British lady standing right next to me in Asian grocery store.
“Its curry leaves”, I replied.
“Oh! So curry powder is made from these leaves then?”

I just met another person who thinks curry powder is made from curry leaves or some part of its tree and I am sure that there are many more like her who thinks the same! I, along with my friends here in BC and many other food bloggers, have been stressing that there is nothing called “Curry Powder” in Indian cuisine. Now that I have told that curry leaves are not used in making curry powder, shall we go one step ahead and explore the fragrant routine of discovering how curry leaves are used in Indian cuisine?

The Curry Tree or Karivepallai or Kadipatta (Scientific name: Murraya koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India. It produces the leaves known as Curry leaves or Sweet Neem leaves.

The small and narrow leaves somewhat resemble the leaves of the Neem tree; therefore they are also referred to as Karuveppilai (translated to Black Neem leaf) in Tamil and Malayalam, Karu/Kari meaning black, ilai meaning leaves and veppilai meaning Neem leaf. In the Kannada language it is known as Kari BEvu and Karivepaku in Telugu, again translating to the same meaning Black Neem leaf. Other names include Kari Patta (Hindi), which probably is a corrupt translation of Karuveppilai, noroxingha (Assamese), Bhursunga Patra (Oriya), Kadhi Patta (Marathi), Mithho Limdo (Gujarati) and Karapincha (Sinhalese).

(Source: Wiki)

Curry leaves are aromatic and hence used as one of the main ingredients in tadka/tempering for most of South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines. Although it is a most loved ingredient for seasonings in the south Indian culinary world, its use doesn’t limit to this. The fresh aromatic leaves are used to make wet chutney, chutney powders, spice blends etc. They are also used for many medicinal purposes as an antidiabetic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, anti-hypercholesterolemic etc. My grandmother never got tired of saying how good these leaves are for lustrous and glossy hair when consumed in fresh/raw form! And trust me when I say that our Grandmothers never lie when it comes to curry leaves!

Many good Asian grocery shops sell good bunch of fresh curry leaves and some also sell them as frozen or in dried form. Although you can use these frozen or dry curry leaves, their aroma and flavour is much mellow when compared to the heady aroma of fresh curry leaves. When these curry leaves are added to hot oil, along with other seasonings ingredients, the heady aroma of released from these leaves is something that you need to experience on your own as it is way too difficult to express in few words! These leaves infuse their flavour to any dish they touch and make their presence felt.

Today’s recipe features Curry Leaves in lead role and not just as a cameo! This recipe of Curry Leaves Chutney Powder is made from one of my favourite cookbooks: Cooking at Home with Pedatha. In South India, any traditional meal is incomplete without Pickles and/or Chutney Podi. For all who are short of time, pickles and podis are nothing short of saviours! For a quick fix meal, all that is needed is some steamed rice, ghee (Indian clarified butter), some papads and pickle or podi of your choice and voila, you have one delicious meal to savour!

This Curry Leaves Chutney Powder is one of my favourite condiments to have with some crisp Dosa or fluffy and spongy Idli or simple steam cooked rice and chilled curds/yogurt. The recipe is simple and straight forward! All you need is a bunch of curry leaves, few lentils and whole spices. Roast them all in few teaspoons of oil and grind them to coarse powder along with tamarind for that tangy flavour. And in few minutes you have this aromatic, spicy, tangy, protein rich Podi that could be simply stored for a month or two!!! As and when needed, take one or two spoonfuls of this powder and mix them with a bowl of hot/warm rice, papad, ghee or a bowl of yogurt and you have this delicious meal ready in a jiffy. Life can’t get much simpler than this!

Roasted Ingredients for Curry Leaves Chutney Powder

Curry Leaves Chutney Powder (Spicy, tangy & aromatic blend of Curry Leaves, Lentils, Spices & Tamarind)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10-15 mins
Makes: Around 1 cup of Chutney Powder
Shelf Life: 2-3 months when refrigerated
Recipe Level: Basic/Beginner
Recipe Source: Cooking at Home with Pedatha

2 cups Fresh Curry Leaves, loosely packed
8-10 Dry Red Chillies, about 3 inch long and stalks removed
1 small Lime sized Tamarind Pulp
1 tsp powdered Hing/Asafoetida
2 tsp Urad Dal/Split Black Lentils
2 tsp Channa Dal/Split Chickpeas
1 tsp Jaggery/Sugar (Optional)
2-4 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste

Curry Leaves Chutney Powder

Remove curry leaves from its stalk and rinse them clean. Wipe them dry using kitchen towel and keep them aside till needed.
Heat a wide pan on medium flame and dry roast urad dal and channa dal, separately, till they turn golden brown and keep them aside.
In a same pan, add hing and roast on low heat for half a minute and keep it aside along roasted lentils.
Add about 2-3 tbsp of oil in a pan and when it is heated add curry leaves. Roast these curry leaves on medium heat till they turn crisp but retain that lovely green colour, about 3-5 mins. Keep it aside.
In a same pan, add dried red chillies and roast for around half a minute to minute. Make sure that you don’t roast the chillies too much and turn black. Keep it aside along with other ingredients.
Next add tamarind pulp in a pan and roast for around 45 seconds. Keep it aside to cool.
Once all the ingredients have cooled enough, transfer them into dry mixer or food processor jar and grind to fine or coarse powder according to your preference.
Transfer ground powder into dry and clean jar. Pop it in refrigerator for longer shelf life. You can serve this delicious Curry Leaves Chutney Podi/Powder with Dosa, Idli or steamed rice and enjoy.

Serving Suggestion:
Take a teaspoon or two of Curry Leaves Chutney Powder and mix them with a bowl of steam cooked rice, topped with ghee and some Papads. Or mix this Chutney powder with a bowl of rice and yogurt.
You can also serve it as a side dish with Dosa or Idli, topped with a dollop of Ghee or oil.

Special Notes/Tips:
Make sure that the curry leaves are washed, rinsed and dried thoroughly before frying them as the moisture will reduce the shelf life of this chutney powder.
(This post is reproduced from Beyond Curries. While you are enjoying this Curry Leaves Chutney Pwder, don't forget to take a quick peek at my Diwali post on Beyond Curries where something sweet is waiting for you. Yes, you heard me right. We are having Sabudana Payasa/Kheer for dessert.)


  1. The picture is gorgeous sia, I love karivepilai podi, I used to make it every week when I was in India, after coming here I scarcely make them !!, It looks so yummy...

  2. Its really nice to see u after a long gap with this aromatic chutney powder. Nice click, nice recipe.

  3. That aroma hits me right from there, truly nostalgic. In our homes, first muddha or first mouthful of rice is usually podis and better if it is 'karivepaku podi' :)

  4. Great information! I have fallen in love with curry leaves and found a plant that I am keeping short by pruning it every year. I love the spit and sizzle when I add them to the oil!

  5. Good post....wait...you are here? In BC?!!!!!

  6. looks awesome! great way to add curry leaves in ur diet rather than just using it for seasoning.

  7. This is one of my fav. My mom always gives a dabba full of this chutney powder everytime I visit India. I've never made it myself 'cos of the exorbitant price that the Indian grocers charge here for 3-4 tiny stems. I miss the luxury of picking fresh curry leaves from the backyard whenever you need it like in India. Chutney powder looks delicious.

  8. Hi hi it is true lot of ppl think the same about curry leaves.
    Delicous podi.

  9. THat looks prfect.I love it with Idli n dosa.

  10. This looks so spicy, the pics are gorgeous, thank you so much for sharing this recipe. Is this the same thing as "gun powder", my friend from Tamil Nadu once brought me a packet and told me that was gun powder, that tasted heavenly.

  11. Hi Sia...i love this powder n use it in many ways......this is my first visit to your blog and i feel like i will be coming here very frequently....

  12. Looks wonderful Sia, I love this with dosas...havent made it in a real long time..Had a wonderful time reading the RCI Mangalore round-up...Bookmarked a whole lot and hope to try them all soon...

  13. Delicious chutney powder and lovely click.

  14. i jus love curry leaves podi.lovely click

  15. The look itself is mouth watering... I would love to add it on to anything I eat. I would love to try it sometime.....

    Nice pics too...to match the recipe..


  16. I am definitely going to make this. I can now get fresh curry leaves from the street behind mine. I only discovered (thanks to my friend Sonia who is visiting from India) that there are curry-leaf trees all around the area where I live. There are quite a few families from Gujrat that migrated to Barbados decades ago and they have the curry leave trees. I have two curry leaf plants in pots growing right now.

    I can't imagine my life without curry leaves now.

  17. I love this but I've never made it. Fortunately, a friend gets some for me everytime she goes to India! Gorgeous picture

  18. Hi Sia,

    I liked this chutney powder, however, I have another recipe of curry leaves powder which has lots of curry leaves and the base is just urad dal. For the heat, you add black pepper. Try this and this tastes very good with dosa and especially akki rotti or simply mix it with chilled yogurt and you can have it with almost anything!
    You will need curry leaves, thoroughly cleaned and dried - about 2-3 cups
    1 cup roasted urad dal,
    2 table spoons jeera
    2 table spoon pepper (or more according to taste)
    1 marble sized tamarind
    jaggery/ 1 spoon brown sugar
    1 cup dried coconut/kopra
    Dry roast the dal,jeera, curry leaves and pepper, seperately.
    Dry roast the coconut also on a very low flame or just put them in any hot pan.
    Grind all the ingredients to a coarse powder. This is green in colour because of lots of curry leaves. Try this and let me know if you like it. This gives the absolute benefit of curry leaves as your grandmother used to say!

  19. Looks Awesome!! I have started using curry leaves a whole lot after I spotted some grey hair ;-)
    I googled for home remedies and got a bunch which indicated the benefits of curry leaves.No wonder women from Kerala have such wonderful locks :D. Iam surely gonna add this chutney to my regular meals .

  20. Heck yeah! I love these little leaves and am bookmarking this :)

  21. The pics are sooo good! I am sure its a very aromatic chutney! I love the flavour of karipatta. Looks yummmy!

  22. homemade and bottled powders and mixes like these are a true godsend!today I used my bottled kara kozhambu which I brought back from india.

  23. Hey, this is my first visit to your blog, and by God I'm hooked. I am a gujju by heart but 5 yrs of studying in Manipal (k'tka) has made me a southie by taste. I long for pickles, podis, and chutney that my friends from Andhra, kerala and K'taka would bring with them to the hostel. The spicy curries with rice..its been 10yrs but I'm still yearing for that typical taste.

    I do have a query, with this recipe, instead of tamarind paste, can i use the ready-made pulp available in stores?


  24. @Neela, I will try ur version next time. Thanks a lot for giving me detailed recipe :)

    @Tejal, I have used tamarind pulp here and not paste. just remember to remove seeds and any impurities before using the pulp.

  25. I tried your curry leaves chutney podi today. It has come out well. Enjoyed very much. I used to do with out tamarind and sugar but this is different and nice. I roasted curry leaves in microwave oven.

  26. I've been following your blog for quite a while and enjoying your wealth of good recipes. When Foodista announced that they are going to publish the best food blogs in a full color book that will be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing Fall 2010, I naturally thought of you. This recipe would be a good submission! You can enter here: http://www.foodista.com/blogbook/submit


    Editor and Community Developer
    Foodista.com -- The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit

  27. hey sia,
    thts an informative post!

  28. The picture looks beautiful ! I make my karivepillai podi similarly minus the tamarind and jaggery ! Am going to give your version a try the next time I make this :-)

  29. curry leaves powder is my favourite.I love to have it with hot rice and ghee.You have a lovely blog.You can visit my blog and drop in ur valuable comments.

  30. The picture itself is so tempting!!

  31. What I love the most is the introduction you give before the recipe. It really takes us back to those days and I really fell like I am with you inhaling the aromas and taking in the sights.

  32. yummm...just want to take it and eat......just started blogging after a break and its nice to see such yummy recipes...njoy!!!do come around my blog...


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