Pleasant Pull of The Past ~ Curry Leaf Podi

We went to a friend’s home last weekend. Our conversations these days invariably lead to gardening and plants. She has this beautiful and big curry leaf plant of 7 years old in her backyard which is almost a tree now. I guess it was amusing to see my admiration, she cut few branches on the spot for me. Such fearlessness! I am so old, I can remember the scarce days when I used to actually count the curry leaves before adding them to a recipe. Thanks to the generous friend, I finally made the beloved karivepaaku podi (curry leaf podi) at home today.

Curry leaf podi is a cherished Andhra tradition. This spicy seasoning with intense curry leaf aroma will taste great when mixed with rice or sprinkled over lightly cooked vegetables or even on salads. Curry leaf podi can be prepared in many ways. The following recipe is from my amma.

Fresh Curry Leaves
Fresh Curry Leaves ~ dried under Gentle Autumn Sun

Karivepaaku Podi (Curry Leaf Podi)

4 cups of tightly packed fresh curry leaves
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
12 red chillies, Indian variety, about ring-finger length each
1 teaspoon cumin
2 garlic cloves, skin peeled, slivered
1 teaspoon sea salt

Curry Leaves: Rinse curry leaves under water and gently pat them dry with a towel. Spread them on a cotton cloth to sun-dry under afternoon sun. The leaves will loose moisture and become dry but still retain green color. Do not sun-burn the leaves to black.

Gently fry the curry leaves on low heat in a cast-iron pan. Take care not to black or burn the leaves. Remove them to a plate to cool. The purpose of sun-drying and roasting is to let the leaves lose the moisture so that when powdered, they will remain dry and healthy to consume. Even after all this process, the leaves have to retain green color.

Roast: In the same skillet, add and roast dried chillies, garlic to brown. Remove. Add cumin and sesame seeds and roast until the sesame seeds are a few shades darker and emit a toasted aroma. Some seeds will actually start to pop out of the pan. Empty the contents of the skillet onto a plate and cool.

Powder: Add the cooled and roasted ingredients to a Sumeet style mixer or coffee grinder. Grind to fine powder. Cool completely and store in a clean jar with tight lid. It remains fresh and flavorful up to 3 months.

The tasty curry leaf podi can be enjoyed in many ways. Mix it with hot cooked rice and ghee, or rice and dal. Sprinkle the podi on warm chapati, idly, dosa or pesarattu. Great last minute seasoning to skillet-sautéed curries, like roasted potatoes, carrots, beans etc. Curry leaf podi is a wonderful thing to have in the kitchen.

Curry Leaf Podi (Karivepaaku Podi)
Curry Leaf Podi (Karivepaaku Podi)

Podi (Telugu) = Powder (E)
© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

20 Comments

  • By Sapna, November 16, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

    The podi looks so colorful and tempting. Thanks for posting such a nice recipe.
    Being in Boston, I scimp on using curry leaves too and sometimes freeze them when I get them in bulk.

  • By Nirmala, November 17, 2009 @ 12:49 am

    My favorite! I have my friend whose wife when leaves for her native will eat a two course meal with this and curds. Podi mixed with rice and thick curds as a side, and curd rice with this podi as a side. After hearing that combo thats become a regular affair whenevr I make a batch! This version of amma’s looks mouth watering !

  • By Nirmala, November 17, 2009 @ 12:50 am

    And Indira, just heatup a teaspoon of ghee and when it is hot remove the vessel from the stove and add this podi a T sppon of it. Let it fry in the hot ghee for some seconds and when poured on dal rice, thats simple heaven!

  • By sreelu, November 17, 2009 @ 12:55 am

    Indira, I am fortunate to have a curry leaf plant/tree at my home raised it carefully like a child. With winter i see leaves drying up, perfect time to use this recipe. Will give it a try this weekend

  • By sanjeeta kk, November 17, 2009 @ 3:09 am

    A Tangy Andhra delight.And healthy too!

  • By DesiFoodie, November 17, 2009 @ 6:03 am

    Got one in my backyard. It is almost a weed with all the little ones coming off on the sides. Thanks for the recipe.

    Our friends made it for us but never shared the recipe.

  • By rashmi, November 17, 2009 @ 11:34 am

    nice healthy one…

  • By Lori, November 17, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

    A local Korean grocer sells curry leaves in bulk packages. But I can never get through a full container before they start to brown. This podi should help in a big way!
    I imagine you’re too hungry for this to last long, but how long does the podi last? And do you store the podi in the fridge with your other garlic containing podi?

  • By nithya at hungydesi, November 17, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

    Looks great…I love to mix a little of this podi with some rice and yogurt.

  • By Supriya, November 17, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

    Looks great..we also make this chutney with dry coconut. At my home we love eating bread filled with this chutney and butter.

  • By sailaja, November 17, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

    Hi Indira garu, Your post makes me smell the fragrance of the podi… the pic is that beautiful!
    I know curry leaves are very expensive in US but i stopped caring about the cost and add them to popus with my eyes closed..ha…ha… I have tried twice to bring them from India but by the time I opened the pack of curryleaves(I washed, dried and airtight packed them in India and brought) in US, they were black and wilted and with fungus on some leaves :( Did you ever try like that?

  • By gayatri, November 17, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

    We do this in a different way: we add chana dal, urad dal, red chilli and dhania and curry leaf.

    Tastes good with idli, dosa and hot rice.

    I hope your curry leaf plant will be tree soon.

  • By DK, November 17, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

    I love curry leaves podi too and we call it Karuveppalai podi. We dont use sesame powder though and use lentils instead. I have posted my amma’s version in my blog too!

    Curry leaves are scarce now in my area with them suddenly disappearing in the local Indian stores. Will try your version, the next time I get my hands on them :)

  • By Radha, November 17, 2009 @ 7:47 pm

    Hi Indira,

    great pic – im a huge fan of podi’s – my mom just said that she herself made this podi since it was winter and her plant was drying up – your picture makes me want it now – cant wait to get my resupply from her!!

    Keep up the great site – love it!
    Radha

  • By Indira, November 18, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

    You are welcome, Sapna.
    Yes, I used to do that when we lived in Pittsburgh.

    Nirmala: We followed your suggestion about mixing it in hot ghee. It was a divine experience.:) Thanks for the tasty idea.

    Sreelu: It’s not that easy to grow a curry leaf plant to a small tree, and you must be a great gardener.
    Yes, this podi is a nice use for falling leaves.

    Nithya and Supriya: Thanks for the lovely ideas. I have to try that bread filling version.

    Lori: It will stay fresh for long time and doesn’t need refrigeration.

    Thanks Sailajagaaru.
    I never brought, but my mom makes a plain powder of dried curry leaves and vaccum packs it for my sister who lives in Europe. She adds a pinch of the podi to the tadka (tiragamaata). Nice substitue for fresh curry leaves, she says.

    Thanks Gayatri.
    Yes, that is one another good recipe for this podi.

    DK: My MIL prepares the podi like your mom with chana dal, urad dal etc. Like that version too.
    We need curry leaves, plenty of them. don’t we?:)

    Thanks Radha.
    From mom, then it must taste superb.

  • By sailaja, November 18, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

    hmmmm… that’s an interesting idea… to powder the leaves and use in tadka… I’ll try that next time.

  • By Bindu, November 19, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

    I was wondering if all the roasting is dry roasting or should we add a tablespoon on oil?

  • By kalva, November 19, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

    MIL makes the same way, mom adds some dal to it. lovely podi

  • By Radhika Vasanth, November 20, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

    Awesome recipe and picture… Curry leaf podi is available in my Mom’s pantry round the year. This is one our family’s favorite podi that we have it with dosa.. am not sure if she adds garlic in it..

  • By Chakravarthy, September 28, 2010 @ 12:05 am

    Thanks for the wonderful idea. I have been travelling alot. Since I’m addicted to Indian food, I have to cook myself most of the time. When I was in the Philippines where I travel very frequently, I could not find curry leaves. There was a big tree in the Malaysian Embassy where my friend worked. I used to get a lot of the leaves but it wont last as it will turn black very fast. The embassay is very far from my place an I cant get regular supply. My friend suggested that I keep the leaves in oil to avoid it turning black.

    Now the tree has been cut down and I had to bring it from Malaysia everytime I travel. The last time I brought them in, it was not allowed to enter as there is a law on bringing in greens from another country.

    Even in Malaysia, we used to have a big tree but now since we are living in high rise buildings, we had to purchase the leaves in the market.

    BTW, do you know how to make karuveppalai pachadi? I would like to know how its done in India or Andhra.

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