Curry leaves (called kadi patta in Hindi) are small herb leaves with a slightly sweet flavour. They are used as an aromatic and flavouring in many Indian curries and soups. I love to add it in almost all of my Indian recipes. I temper my dals with curry leaves, I use them for upmas, for khichdi, for curries and when I want more of it, I make a chutney with them!
The flavour of curry leaf is released when it is fried in oil. Therefore, in recipes calling for curry leaves, they are usually added in the first step along with cumin seeds in the oil or ghee. If you rub a fresh curry leaf with your fingers, you can smell its fragrance on your fingers. The curry leaf plant (called meetha neem or sweet neem) is very common in most homes across India.
While curry leaves are very common in Indian cuisine, I haven’t seen them being used in any other cuisine which is also why I haven’t been able to find the plant in all the countries we have lived in. In US where there is a lot of Indian population, I have seen fresh curry leaves in Indian store. But in Angola and Romania and even in Scotland, I only had my mom and her ingenious way of preserving kadi patta to thank for that quintessential tempering in my recipes. Every time I go home, I bring back a jar of freshly dried curry leaves.
If you stay in a place where you don’t find curry leaves often, use this method of preserving and storing fresh curry leaves for that delicious flavour and aroma in your Indian curries and lentils.
How to dry and preserve Indian curry leaves
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 2 cups fresh curry leaves
- Remove the leaves from the stalk and wash them thoroughly in a colander.
- Place the wet leaves on a kitchen towel and gently pat them with the towel to remove excess water.
- Place the leaves on a large tray or thali and spread them in a single layer. Place the tray in a cool shade inside your home and leave them to dry. Cover with a thin cloth if there is dust.
- Depending on the weather, the leaves will dry in 2-3 days. It is important to dry them in shade to retain as much flavour. Sun drying is faster but will result in loosing most of the flavour and aroma.
- Once dried, store the dry and crisp curry leaves in an air-tight container and use it whenever needed just like fresh curry leaves. You can also pack them and send them as gifts to your family and friends who live outside India!
- Dried curry leaves will crumble very easily, so store them in a big container.
- Few things to take care when drying to ensure maximum flavour in the dried leaves:
- Start with the freshest curry leaves. It would be ideal if you can pluck them right off a tree. If you are buying from a vendor, buy the freshest curry leaves he has, no more than a day old.
- wash properly
- dry in shade
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If you love cooking Indian food and are often on a lookout for curry leaves, this is a great recipe to preserve some, whenever you find fresh curry leaves. Do you use any other method for preserving fresh herbs?
If you try this method, I would really love to know how it went. Tag your picture with #weekendkitchen on instagram or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and/or Pinterest.
Let’s start a conversation, share recipes, cooking experiences and food stories from India and around the world.
Elaine @ Dishes Delish
That was a fun read! I can imagine how plentiful the leaves are in India! Now I curious and want to find curry leaves near where I live in the US. I’m on a mission.
In India, almost every home has a curry leaf plant. we use it so much in our cooking that it just makes sense to go out and pluck some whenever needed!
You should find them in any Indian store close to your place. Sometimes they have fresh ones (which is ideal) or they would most likely carry dried curry leaves for sure!
Hope you find them soon 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to rate the recipe!
lots of love,
In Houston ? I have a lot you can come and get for free
Thanks for the offer, Ganesh!
I would love to… do you have a curry leaves tree?
That’s a great tip. I’ve never cooked with curry leaves, even when the recipe calls for them. I just omit them from the recipe, but after reading your post, I wonder what I’ve missed, in terms of flavor. The next time I go to an area with an Indian Market, I plan to buy curry leaves and dry them, so I can make the Indian recipes properly. This was great information to have. Thanks for sharing.
So really should try the recipes with curry leaves. They add a beautiful aroma and flavour to the dish.. I hope you find some nice fresh curry leaves in the Indian market 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!
Allison - Celebrating Sweets
I have never seen curry leaves before. Thanks for sharing your tips for drying & preserving.
You really need to add them to any of your savoury dishes! Try it in one of your pasta sauces. They lend such a beautiful aroma and flavour. I am sure you will love it!
lots of love,
Very helpful post about drying curry leaves. I don’t use them very often in my cooking, but when I do, it’s always a drag to go buy some! Dried ones can be very handy indeed. Thanks!
And you can’t really buy a small pack of these so this method is very handy to preserve any extra that you may have! 🙂
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and rating the recipe!
hmmm… makes me wonder if a curry plant will grow in my region.
what is your region? My sister-in-law once found a curry plant sapling in the local Indian store in Connecticut and now has a beautiful plant in her home!
Dominique | Perchance to Cook
I have never done this before but I’m so happy that you provided a how-to because this is awesome and every cook needs to know how to do this!
Shade drying herbs in season has been going on in India since generations but these days with easy availability of dried herbs in markets, most cooks (in India at least) have stopped preserving herbs at home.. but i feel this is the best way to ensure maximum flavour
This is so useful! I buy fresh ones from my local Indian super market, but when I don’t use them quickly enough, they mold. I will totally do this next time! Thank you!
Oh yes! They told very quickly and you can never buy a small bunch so preserving them is a great way of saving them 🙂
Glad you found it helpful!
lots of love,
LOL Of course, I’m the opposite, here in New York – it’s easier for me to find dry than fresh. (And you’re right – they crumble so easily!) When I did see fresh ones I grabbed them and froze them, hoping…
🙂 I am glad you found fresh ones and you grabbed them!
Freezing will work too but they get freezer burns quickly… If you freeze them, freeze with their stalks.
I picked up a ‘curry herb’ this past Spring and it has been growing in a pot on my porch. Winter is coming so I need to preserve my herbs soon. My question is, is there more than one type of curry plant? My leaves look more like a light grey rosemary than the full leaves in your pictures. My leaves smell like curry but I have been hesitant to use them because I don’t know in fact if they are edible.
The ones in my picture is the Indian curry leaf plant. I haven’t seen curry leaves like that of rosemary. Maybe you can ask the store where you bought the plant from if they are edible? You never know, they might just be a cross between curry leaves and rosemary!
Can you send me a picture? email or any other social media.. I am intrigued and would want to learn more about this other curry plant!
Thank you so much for rating the post!
Curry leaves are wonderful. I wish I had a plant to great fresh off of. It’s kinda like here in Arizona, we always have basil and peppers on hand. Great tips!
I wish for that too Carrie!! A fresh plant to pluck my leaves right before putting them in the dish! Nothing beats that flavour 🙂
Thank you so much for rating the post!
Abby @ WinsteadWandering
I confess that I’ve never cooked with curry leaves, but your description makes me want to change that.
You have to! They would add a wonderful flavour to your savoury dishes.. try in your regular pasta sauce! I am betting you will love it!
I use a similar method for drying fresh herbs. I love getting fresh herbs for certain dishes, but never go through them quickly enough. Drying out the leftovers is a great way to keep them from going bad and they last forever! I’m glad your mom can send you home with more curry leaves – it’s a great incentive to visit!
Mom’s are the best 🙂 I have stopped bringing back too much with me now because we find enough fresh ingredients here in Bucharest.. but when we were in Angola, there were only a few Indian ingredients available and my mom used to dry and pack almost every herb for me 🙂 My sister used to complaint that I get pampered even after turning 30!
lots of love,
How long can you keep dried curry leaves for? DO you know if they can go off?
I have had mine since over a year now and they are perfectly fine till now! 🙂
Your advice is very usefull. The tree is known as Muryii Konigii on botanical terms . You can buy it in the uk but it will only survive the winter in a heated greenhouse or sun room in the UK. I bought two to take to southern spain where they are thriving but they lose their leaves in the cooler part of the year so drying is the best option.
This is very helpful and I will update the post to reflect the same. But you have to tell me how did you take plants from UK to Spain? By road? My sister-in-law, in US, got one plant from the Indian store in New Jersey and it has been thriving for last 2 years, but she keeps it inside, close to a glass window so that the plant gets enough sunlight and also stays warm.
Rhonda A Oki
Curry Leaves are the best kept secret! They do not last too long fresh. I buy them from the store and I never use them all. I just purchased a dehydrator so I hope I can use that to save them!
Dehydrating them would be the best way to increase their lifespan! I can totally relate to you. In the supermarket, curry leaves always come in such large portions and there is never enough time to use them all and fresh curry leaves last only for up to a week. Wish you many more months with your wonderful curry leaves 🙂
I have dried curry leaves, but now i notice they have some sort of small powdery spots on them. They dont seem to be visibly fungused. Can i wash and use them still?
did these spots develop over time or were they on the fresh leaf too? Though I always lean towards being safe so if you have any doubt on what these spots are, don’t use them.
We started using this unique spice during a residency in the middle east where Indian cuisine is predominant with all the Indian expat workers and professionals. Once you get the itch for the one of a kind flavor the sweet neem imparts, there us but one
Way to scratch it since no other spice tastes may simulate or substitute effectively!
I dry mine from my plant by removing the whole stem eith leaves intact and hang them in a dry, dark environment a few days till desiccated. Then I slip my fingers down the stem to remove whole dried leaves for storage. As with most herbs, though, fresh be best!.
No herb can truly substitute the flavor of sweet neem or curry leaves and totally agree with you that fresh is the best! When I am in India, I always can count on the tree right outside our home for fresh curry leaves, but when living outside, sometimes drying them is the only way to preserve. I am so glad you have found your love for the taste of curry leaves and are drying your own!
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts 🙂
I have the pale feathery plant someone mentioned above. It is called a curry plant here in Canada. It smells strongly of curry and I just pluck a sprig and put it in the soup or whatever. It weathers winters fine in Vancouver outside, So I get it fresh all year. This one, I believe: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helichrysum_italicum
That’s great Gilian… this plant is different from the Indian curry leaf plant… the Indian curry leaves has nuggets leaves like you can see in the image of the post.
Hi! I came across your site simply because I have curry plants in abundance, they grow wild in my place in the Philippines. I thought of preserving the leaves from the pruned twigs as it has a long list of health benefits. I’m looking for a recipe so it can be used as a garnish for table use but not sure how to go about it. Aside from using it as a spice, it actually makes a good herbal drink served with lemon or Philippine calamansi and honey or sugar. You can serve it warm or cold. It’s a favorite welcome drink for my guests and friends!
That’s a wonderful idea! Thanks, Mila 🙂
I will surely try this drink. Do you drink it hot or cold? Apart from as a spice, I use curry leaves to make chutney (or spread).
I am from South Africa and we have the largest population of Indians outside of India with the majority of South Africans of Indian origin living in the beautiful city of Durban with its warm tropical climate and the Indian Ocean embracing its shores. The curry leaf plant can also be found in most homes as it grows extremely well here. I have a curry leaf grove and most of my old season leaves go to waste as I did not know what to do with them. Thank you for the tips on how to dry and preserve them. I know what I will be giving family and friends this Christmas !
That is so awesome John!
I am so happy that your family and friends are going to be delighted with fragrant curry leaves packets! and I am glad I could help!
Thank you for the tip. And what about , when we powdered these dried leaves. Can we retain it’s flavour and aroma. How long ?
Dried curry leaves will definitely have lessor aroma and flavor than the fresh ones but it’s a great way of preserving them and also carrying them if you don’t live in India! I don’t powder them. Some do break but most stay well as whole dried leaves. If you powder them they will lose their aroma over time like with most powdered spices. So I would suggest, if you have to use powdered curry leaves, powder them just before using.
Also this powder will be different from curry powder. Curry powder is a mix of different ground spices and not powdered curry leaves.
Hope that helps,
Glad I found your tips on how to dry the leaves. I order them for my husband because they help tremendously with his Congested Heart failure. We recieve so many that they go bad before he can eat them all. So I will dry half of the to use in cooking dishes which I can not wait to do. Also I live in the United States in Georgia and I have ordered seeds to plant. Can’t wait to grow our own to use and share with friends and family.
That is so nice Paula!!! I am so happy that you found this post and the way to preserve your curry leaves. I am sure you will love your curries with curry leaf seasoning! 🙂 Can’t wait to know what you try with them!