We are well into winter now here in Delhi. Autumn is past; the tiny leaves of Gulmohur have finally done their main shedding. It’s not bare, it never is, but we don’t sweep up a pile of leaves by the gate anymore. This is also the time when a lot of us feel the need to prune some of the evergreens so that there may be just a little more sun on the ground. My curry leaf tree does tend to shade my lime and keeps it from bearing a winter crop. It was also growing a bit too tall with hardly any low handy branches for a quick tempering. So, I had my gardener lop off a few branches last month.
It would have been a shame to have that huge pile of curry leaves go waste. Curry leaf podi has been on my list for a long time. I gathered a bunch of fresh leaves this time, like all the times before, to make into some spicy podi. I was finally going to have curry powder in my kitchen! Actually, that is not true. I did get myself some of that authentic curry powder on my last visit to the US. My brother-in-law was very kind to give me a big bottle of it which I have used to spice many mixed vegetable stir fries; perfect when I want that exotic twist 🙂 to my everyday Indian.
I searched the net for a karivepillai podi only to find that there are as many recipes for curry leaf podi as there are kitchens! Yes, of course, it is like a chutney and everyone has their own twist to the basic combination of roasted curry leaves and dal, with chillies providing the heat.
Curry Leaf powder #1
3 C leaves
2 T chana dal
2 T urad dal
1/2 t methi seeds
1T sesame seeds
1T coriander seeds
tamarind, 1/2 of a lime sized ball
red chillies to taste (I used 2 Kashmiri chillies, and 8 small red-hot homegrown chillies)
1 1/2 t cumin seeds
6 small cloves of garlic
salt to taste
In a karahi or heavy bottom pan fry the curry leaves on medium heat using 1 1/2 teaspoon of oil. Remove to a plate to cool. Heat half teaspoon of oil in the same karahi and fry the next set of ingredients till the urad dal is pink and you can smell the roasting aromas. Cool.
Combine all the ingredients, including cumin seeds, garlic, and salt, and grind to a as fine a powder as your grinder will permit. Serve mixed with rice, a spot (or more) of ghee or gingelly oil, and maybe a few vadams on the side to get in touch with your South Indian side.
Curry Leaf Podi #2
(based on Revathi’s recipe)
2 dry chillies
2T urad dal
2T chana dal
1 t oil (optional, but recommended)
Dry roast* all the leaves and set aside. Dry roast the remaining ingredients. Combine with salt and grind together to a medium-fine powder.
Both the podis are excellent but the first one, with its longer list of ingredients including tamarind and sesame, makes a curry leaf rice which has multiple layers of flavour and is a great meal in a hurry. At the same time, I admit the second one is quite different in how it presents black pepper as the dominant flavour; truly unique.
* It is really hard to dry roast fresh leaves, especially if you are using a large quantity, as I was. I roasted the curry leaves for both the recipes in one go and found it hard going since the leaves tend to stick together and there was just too much of them. You would do better to use Indira’s tip on sun-drying the leaves for a day before roasting. I made the podis before she posted her recipe.