Does anyone else think that curry leaves are under-used? When I was growing up, this wonderful emerald green leaf would crop up in a lot of my dinners. My parents were fond of using them wherever they could, especially with lentil dishes.
Now I notice that, whenever I go out to an Indian restaurant, there’s not a curry leaf in sight. It’s a real shame as I think this leaf adds a wondeful unique flavour to curries. I wouldn’t even consider making a Sri-Lankan meal without them now. Thank goodness they freeze so well!
The only restaurant I’ve found in Britiain that makes good use of these leaves is Memsaab in Chelsea. They use them in several of their dishes, including the delicious lobster I had on my last visit.It was this lobster dish that inspired me to make Friday night’s dinner. I had a craving for curry and I had a bag of frozen squid in the freezer. I thought a mimic of the flavours that went with my lobster would be a particularly good way of getting rid of it.
The problem was, I had no idea what was in that sauce, so I got improvising. I remember the sauce being light and creamy, which suggested to me that coconut milk had been used. The spices were light but definitely a main feature of the dish. I decided to try out cumin, coriander, ground ginger, a little fenugreek, a touch of red chilli and garlic.
I simmered the coconut milk with softened onion, the spices and the curry leaves for about 10 minutes and tasted. It was lacking the sweetness that I remembered from the Memsaab dish so I added a bit of tomato puree. When I was just about happy with the flavour of the sauce, I cut off the scallop roes and let them simmer in the sauce for a couple of minutes then added the cut up squid. When they had just turned translucent, I took the pot off the heat, seared the scallops seperately then added them to the mix.
A quick taste let me know that a squeeze of lemon was needed plus a little more spice. Once that was added, I was pretty happy with the dish so it was time to make the accompaniments. I wanted something else light and delicate and so I boiled some basmati rice with saffron and cardamoms and made a tarka daal as a side dish.
On the whole the curry was very good. It wasn’t up to the standard of Memsaab (unsuprisingly) but good for a first attempt. I absolutely loved the curry leaves in this but I did feel something was missing, I still can’t put my finger on it but I’ll keep experimenting until I do.
On a whim, I’ve decided to submit this post as a very late entry to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, invented by Kalyn at Kayln’s Kitchen and, this week, hosted by Anna at Anna’s Cool Finds. Although this dish would probably qualify on several different ingredients my herb of choice this week is, of course, curry leaves.