Karuvepillai Kuzhambu (Curry Leaves Curry)

That’s a strange title – but that is exactly what this post is about. A curry make with curry leaves. I appreciate that curry leaves are not available in many parts of the world. But it is a hardy plant and can grow in most hot and/or humid climates. It will not survive only in extremely cold temperatures. But why should one consume curry leaves? In India, it’s benefits have been known from ancient times. Most households in South India will grow a plant – either in a garden or a pot. This culture has spread to other parts of the country too. Now I routinely find curry leaves plants in North India where this herb has not been traditionally used. Here is a long list of benefits of curry leaves. Its a powerful antioxidant, may reduce the risk of cancer, reduces the risk of heart disease, helps in the management of diabetes, helps deal with stomach diseases, effective against morning sickness, is an analgesic, has neuroprotective effects, kills bacteria, has hepatoprotective effects, is excellent for hair management, is a treatment for amnesia, good for the eyes, good for the skin, good for oral health, helps with weight loss and heals wounds.
Sadly, most people remove the curry leaves from their food while eating. This defeats the very point of adding curry leaves in the food. My youngest maternal aunt used to knock us in the head if she found even one curry leaf discarded during meals. Thankfully, for me, I’ve had a strict teacher!
I normally make a powder with curry leaves and add it to my food – this way, it cannot be discarded. But this curry is also an effective and tasty way to consume the leaf!

Karuvepillai Kuzhambu

2 handfuls of fresh, tender curry leaves
A small Indian gooseberry sized ball of tamarind, soaked and juice extracted
2 1/2 tsp red chili powder (adjust according to taste)
1 cup shallots
1 tsp date paste
Unrefined salt to taste
To Temper
1 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1 tsp split black lentils (urad dal, ulutham parupu)
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
To Grind
1 tsp coriander seeds (sabut dhania, kothamalli varai) – don’t increase this quantity or the curry will taste bitter
1 tsp split black lentils
1 tsp pigeon peas (tur dal, thuvaram parupu)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (sabut jeera, jeeragam)
1/2 tsp black pepper corns (sabut kali mirch, kuru milagu)
Heat a wok and add all the ingredients mentioned under “To Grind”
When the spices are browned, add the curry leaves
Roast till the raw smell of the curry leaves go off – about 2-3 minutes
Switch the flame off
Add the roasted ingredients to a blender and grind to a smooth paste
Add a little water while grinding, but the paste should not be too thick or thin
Set aside
Again, heat a wok and add mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the split black lentils and asafoetida
Once the lentil turns golden brown, add the shallots
Continue to roast till the shallots are translucent, sprinkling a little water if necessary
Add chili powder and the ground paste
Mix well
Add the tamarind paste
Add more water if the curry is too thick
Add salt
Once it comes to a boil, add the
Boil well for about 15 minutes
At the end, mix in the date paste
Remove from flame and either serve immediately or refrigerate (will stay good for about a week)
Serve with steamed red/brown/millet rice or with idli, dosa,,,

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