Today's Mofo Spice is Dried Curry Leaves
On my most recent trip to India, I really fell in love with fresh curry leaves. I mentioned a couple of days ago that I brought home loads of various spices and such... and one my most valued items was a large metal tin stuffed full with dried curry leaves. I keep them in my freezer to maintain maximum potency. Sometimes I open the bag and smell them, just for fun.
What are curry leaves, anyway?
Probably you've heard of "curry powder," but that is not actually related to curry leaves from what I can tell. There is a plant called a curry plant - the leaves are smallish, dark green, smooth and pointy. You can buy little bunches of the branches at the market in India - sort of like how we might buy bunches of sage. Curry leaves are absolutely glorious - a flavor and smell all their own. Sometimes you can find frozen curry leaves at the Indian market, and if you have never tried them, I really, really recommend it. Do yourself a favor! They will blow your mind!
I know that this soup isn't much to look at, but MAN! was it good.
As far as I'm concerned, the number one thing to make with curry leaves is Sambar. It's a thin, brothy soup with veggies and the tang of tamarind, along with some richness from coconut and dal. Sambar is a big staple of South Indian food. I found this recipe online, and chose it because it called for lots of curry leaves (which is just the way I like it) and because the reviews were great. We both absolutely loved it! I've been looking for a good sambar recipe for a while, and I need look no further. I couldn't believe I made something this delicious.
I also found a recipe for "Carrot Kari" in the latest issue of Saveur Magazine, which called for a handful of curry leaves. I really love carrots, and the ingredients made this seem like it would be a great dish. Somehow though, this recipe just managed to cook all the flavor out of my carrots and didn't have much to offer. I finished my plate, but Mr. Vegan Eats and Treats turned his focus back to the sambar. Can't say I blame him!