Curry leaves are nutrient dense food ingredient that can be used to make very interesting condiments apart from the traditional tadka in South Indian chutneys and curries. I have used curry leaves or karipatta, as it is commonly called, in many chutney mixes that were developed for young mothers, growing children and ageing people who may not be getting to eat conventional nutrient dense foods required for optimal iron and calcium supplementation.
While curry leaves are quite flavourful by themselves, I decided to add some fresh coriander greens along with all the stems and tender roots for the added zing. Some fenugreek seeds and green chillies bring in a hint of bitterness and much required heat in the podi. Urad dal and loads of black and brown sesame seeds sourced locally from Dehradun farmers gives the podi a pleasant nuttiness. The most interesting dimension of this green curry leaves podi is the use of extra virgin olive oil that takes all the intense flavours and delivers it really well on your idli, plain boiled rice or dosa. I tried the podi with boiled potatoes to make a salad as well and it was a success.
Note that the curry leaf podi is made using fresh green ingredients and it will be dehydrated completely while cooking, it takes a long time to cook. So plan the making of this curry leaves podi alongside your daily cooking or weekly prep work so you don’t have to stand in the kitchen for long hours. It does take about two hours to cook completely and dehydrate well to make it stay good for a few weeks at room temperature. Do read the note at the end of the recipe for an alternate process which may be more convenient for you.
(Enough to fill a 700 ml glass jar)
50-60 sprigs of mature curry leaves
200 gms of coriander leaves and stems
150 gm green chilies
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2 tsp, about 10 gms fenugreek seeds
½ cup, about 100 gm urad dal
1 cup, about 200 gm sesame seeds, preferably black or brown or mixed
200 ml oil (you can use peanut oil or sesame oil, I used extra virgin olive oil)
Rinse and clean the leaves and let them dry out a bit either in a cloth napkin or shade dry overnight.
Chop the leaves and green chillies.
Pour the oil in a deep thick base pan (preferably a cast iron Kadhai), add the fenugreek seeds and urad dal to it and then bring it to the stove on medium heat. Once the content of the Kadhai start sizzling and emanating a mild aroma, add the asafoetida, chopped green chillies and stir and cook on lowest flame for 15 minutes. Then add the chopped leaves along wi5 salt and keep stirring and cooking for about 30-40 minutes.
Lastly, once the leaves are shrunk and aromatic, add the sesame seeds and keep stirring and cooking till everything in the pan becomes crisp and makes a rattling sound when stirred. Switch off the stove and let the mixture cool down. Transfer to the grinder and make a coarse powder to your liking. Fill in an air tight glass jar and tighten the lid. Use a dry spoon to take out required quantity and prevent it from moist air and it stays good for 2 months without any flavour loss at room temperature. One has to b e a little careful in high humidity areas though.
Note that this whole process takes about 2 hours but it can be done in 2-3 steps over the day. You can roast the fenugreek, urad dal and green chillies while making breakfast, add the chopped leaves and roast for a few minutes while you prepare lunch and rest of the cooking can be done while you cook dinner. Alternately you can roast the fenugreek and urad dal in the oil first and then mix everything together and spread in a baking tray and bake at low temperature (90-100C) till the leaves become crisp. Lol and grind and then store the curry leaves podi as mentioned above.
We are loving this podi mixed with ghee, sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil and I have gifted small portions to a couple of friends too. They have shared really good feedback but I think I am myself loving the flavours more than anyone else. It is a blend of flavours according to my own gut feeling you know.
So make some curry leaves podi or chutney powder, call it whatever you feel like and keep eating it 3-4 times a week to keep your hair, bones and skin healthy.