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February 25, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 8:52 pm

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.

curry leaves

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.

squid and scallop curry

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.


  1. Yumaroo! I love curry leaves but they’re impossible to get in any other format other than freeze dried and brittle. Still, it’s better than nowt!
    The food looks delicious, as always!

    Comment by Freya — February 25, 2007 @ 9:19 pm

  2. This looks really good, and I had no idea about freezing fresh curry leaves! I’m sure they must be available somewhere in the SF Bay area, so I’ll have to start looking. Thanks for participating in WHB!

    Comment by Anna — February 25, 2007 @ 9:40 pm

  3. you know my love of all things curry… and all things scallop-y! this looks so tasty. :-) you know, the main reason i don’t use curry leaves is their (un)availability here. I’m sure if i went to one of the indian markets on the other side of town i could find them, but i can’t even find them at the 99Ranch (a chinese supermarket change not to far from our apartment). how lucky you are ros!

    Comment by amanda — February 26, 2007 @ 1:04 am

  4. I keep reading about curry leaves, but I don’t think I’ve had them. I’ve never seen them here, even in the Indian market, but maybe I don’t know what to ask for. Sounds good.

    Comment by Kalyn — February 26, 2007 @ 1:55 am

  5. Where did you get your curry leaves? I’ve got some dried ones but they are not good when dried. I just did a quick check on the web and it suggests that a midnight visit to Kew Gardens could yield some fresh leaves. Are yours frozen and if so where did you get them?

    Comment by Trig — February 26, 2007 @ 7:31 am

  6. Mmm, this looks delicious! I love the taste that real curry leaves provides (I can, sometimes, buy them, but not always). And the coconut milk/spice combo is always a winner for me.

    Comment by Kathryn — February 26, 2007 @ 7:55 am

  7. I think I could eat curry until I bleed that flavor. I just love every spiced nuance in it, and the multitude of ways it can be used.

    This dish looks terrific! Now I want to find curry leaves somewhere!

    Comment by Kate — February 26, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

  8. Did you defrost the squid before you put it in? Was it raw? I keep seeing it in china town but i’m too scared to buy it as i don’t know what to do with it… i do love squid though.

    Comment by Schmoofaloof — February 26, 2007 @ 4:43 pm

  9. Freya, it’s funny how these leaves are so hard to come by unless you live in the right area. There are a few Sri Lankan speciality shops where my parents live and they stock them but I find them a bit tricky to get even in central London.

    Anna, thanks for all you hard work in hosting WHB this week. I hope you manage to find some leaves- San Francisco sounds like a good place for foodies do I bet they’ll be there somewhere.

    Kathryn, coconut and spice is probably my all time favourite comfort food. It’s probably something to do with growing up in a Sinhalese household.

    Amanda, Kate & Kalyn, I’ve heard them referred to as karapincha leaves before, so maybe it’s worth asking for them? I’m not sure, that might be the Sri Lankan name. A Chinese store isn’t likely to have them but if you happen to live near a Sri Lankan community (or S. Indian or Malay I think) you might stand a chance of finding some.

    Trig, my parents buy them for Sri-Lankan stores so I put in my order every now and again. If this Borough market meet ever happens, I’ll try and bring you some.
    Schmoof, I defrosted the squid at room temperature over a few hours and yes, it was raw. I know you’re technically supposed to defrost it in the fridge for longer but I didn’t have time and they don’t react too well to microwaves, even if you leave them in there for just a few seconds too long. Are the ones you see in china town cleaned? I only got unprepared squid once and it was a real pain to clean.

    Comment by ros — February 27, 2007 @ 8:50 pm

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