Potatoes with Crispy Curry Leaves Featured

 

Potatoes with Curry Leaves
Potatoes with Crispy Curry Leaves

How is this for confusing? Curry powder is not made from curry leaves. Good Indian cooks tend to mix spices for individual dishes, although there are some mixtures that are fairly standardized, like garam masala. In the west, some truly awful, unbalanced spice mixtures go by the name of curry powder and should be roundly avoided. To make matters worse, curry leaves themselves can be ground into a powder called karuvepilai podi, although you probably won’t run into that so often.

But back to curry leaves. You’ll have to find an Indian grocery, or a very well stocked pan-Asian grocery to get them. They do freeze rather well though, so it is ok to buy more than you will use immediately. Curry leaves are just incredibly aromatic, in a way that smells something like sesame and nuts. Don’t believe anyone that tells you to use bay leaves as a substitute; they aren’t even vaguely similar. Plus, curry leaves are edible when crisped up, while bay leaves will choke you.

Here’s an easy way to use them, sautéed with potatoes. I kept the other flavors muted so you can really enjoy the curry leaves themselves. I used little, waxy, dark purple potatoes because I figured the visual contrast would be beautiful, but any small potato will do just fine.

By the way, when you boil potatoes, you should always start them in cold water, as this will give the inside a chance to come up to temperature before the outside overcooks and falls apart.

Potatoes with Crispy Curry Leaves
Serves 4 as part of a larger Indian meal
Vegetarian and gluten-free

  • 1 1/2 pounds small, waxy potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • About 30 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Flaky sea salt (Maldon!)
  1. Put potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until completely tender when pierced with a knife, but not falling apart. Drain and reserve.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves, and stir-fry until they begin to crisp up, about 3 minutes. (Pull one out and let it cool for a few seconds to see if it is crispy.)
  3. Add the potatoes, cumin, a few grinds of black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt (less if not Diamond Crystal), and toss well.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning, then finish with a few flakes of sea salt.

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