“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.

Curry Leaves Chutney Powder

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

Recipe: 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
Recipe/Post by: Sia

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

  1. Remove curry leaves from its stalk and rinse them clean. Wipe them dry using kitchen towel and keep them aside till needed.
  2. 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.
  3. In a same pan, add hing and roast on low heat for half a minute and keep it aside along roasted lentils.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Next add tamarind pulp in a pan and roast for around 45 seconds. Keep it aside to cool.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Subscribe to Beyond Curries

RSS Feed Subscribe by Email Subscribe in a Reader
| Copyright © BEYOND CURRIES 2009 | | All rights reserved |
Legal action will be taken against anyone who violates the copyright laws.

Add This Page:


  1. Hari Chandana // 26 July 2009 at 18:46  

    Oh!! What a Aromatic powder.. looks spicy and tempting!.. Awesome clicks!!

  2. meeso // 26 July 2009 at 22:01  

    Yum, I am a curry leaf fanatic! I would love this! Yes, when people find out I like/cook/eat Indian food, the typical responses have something to do with curry, curry powder, spice, heat, etc. I feel bad, because if people got the chance to try the full range of Indian cuisine, I think the popularity would rise dramatically... and I wouldn't hear comments made with a funny face, such as, "I don't really like curry" or "curry is too spicy for me."

  3. Kalyani // 27 July 2009 at 00:25  

    wow the powder so wonderful ...... i love this powder with idlis .. love the pictures sia

  4. Poornima Nair // 27 July 2009 at 00:48  

    That looks great, love the ingrediens u have used. Mmom makes this once a while, but curry leaves are too expensive out here.

  5. Pooja // 27 July 2009 at 01:24  

    Lovely curry leaves powder! Great to have with rice! Lol the lady's doubt was hilarious but we cant blame her, for the similarity of names!

  6. Kurinji // 27 July 2009 at 13:50  

    Hi Sia, with the first line even without entering into the site, but from the subscribed mail itself, i know its ur post/recipe. U r simply superb. I love curry leaves so much, thanks a lot for a fine and instant recipe !

  7. Sum // 27 July 2009 at 18:42  

    mmm.... this is a good one.... wnated to make this from quite some time.......

  8. Kitchen Flavours // 28 July 2009 at 18:30  

    Oh wow...aromatic curry leaf powder....

  9. Vani // 29 July 2009 at 03:29  

    That sounds so delicious, Sup! Can imagine the flavor the curry leaves would be adding to that chutney pudi.

  10. Sia // 30 July 2009 at 15:46  

    Thank you all for your generous compliments and kind words:) I am really glad to know u enjoyed the recipe.

    Messo, ditto :)

    Kurinji, I am glad to know u enjoy reading my posts. Thank you :)