Curry leaves remind me of my trips to Bangladesh in the late '90's where Bollywood mats crafted by an English woman ended up back home all over my house.
You see this one making merry with the top shelf cook books in my kitchen.
What do Bollywood and curry leaves have in common?
India, of course!
And, Bangladesh kisses the borders of India where curry leaves originate.
Curry leaves, let me make it clear, have nothing whatsoever to do with curry powder.
Known in India as kari patta, the leaves are aromatic and can change the flavor of a dish
dramatically by adding a pungent lemony flavor.
The Bozeman Community Food Co-op carries curry leaves sporadically. Whenever
I see them in the produce section I cannot resist. You see, I have become a devoted follower of what curry leaves can bring to cooking.
My son-in-law, Eric claims I am willing to put lemons in everything I cook. He is close
to being correct! The flavor of lemon universally 'jazzes' up a variety of recipes from
cookies to stir fries. Curry leaves with their lemony aroma fit the lemon twist perfectly!
As cookbook author, Monica Bhide said of her own curry leaf proclivity, "I basically divide
my life into B.C. and A.C. - before curry leaves and after I first ate them!"
Buy curry leaves that are bright, dark green without signs of browning or bruising. Unlike
bay leaves, curry leaves are edible. Add at the beginning of sizzling other spices or near
the end of cooking a rice, poultry, or vegetables.
There, in my disorganized spice shelf sits the tiny bag of curry leaves.
For maximum freshness, these delicate and expensive leaves should
be kept in the refrigerator. To keep the leaves longer, dry them. Next on my
to-try list is to make dried curry leaf powder mixed with roasted peanuts,
mango powder, and chile.
Tonight, along with a roasted Cornish game hen from the Fairhaven Hutterite Colony
in Montana, we will saute pre-boiled French fingerling potatoes from our garden. They
will be made hot by sprinkles of bright red dried paprika peppers. Eight or ten curry leaves will be tossed in, along with Kosher salt, ground turmeric, juice of 2 limes, and vegetable oil. A touch of India and Bangladesh, served on a Bollywood mat!