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Forum Thread - Fresh Curry Leaves

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ZoeinSpain, on 6/8/2007 06:26pm

Having recently moved out to Spain I find that I can buy most spices that I need to satisfy my curry cravings - however I am not able to buy fresh curry leaves, which I like to add to lentil and dal dishes. Does anyone know if it is possible to grow the plant - what is the plant called that they come from? Dried curry leaves don't give the right flavour.

Waaza, on 6/8/2007 08:22pm

Hi Zoe,

the plant you are after is called Murraya koenigii. It grows like a small tree, similar in habit to a rowan. The problem is that the seed is only viable for a couple of weeks, so seed from India or Sri Lanka is going to be dead before you can plant it, unless you have relations who will send it airmail. However I do know of people who have grown it in the UK.

There are other plants called curry plants, but all of them have nothing to do with Murraya koenigii. See here:



ZoeinSpain, on 7/8/2007 12:17pm

Thanks for the information. I have now found through The Curry House Garden Blog that there is a nursery Old Hall Plants that supplied some plants to them so I have contacted them.

Waaza, on 7/8/2007 03:57pm

great Zoe,

lets know how you get on, fresh curry leaves are difficult to get outside of large towns/cities, but make sure it is the right one.



Phil, on 10/8/2007 12:06pm

I'd also like to know how you get on with this, Zoe: we live in the South of France, and would like to use fresh curry leaves.

I use dried curry leaves, and like them a lot, but I agree that fresh ones are different. The last time I was able to use them was in Newcastle Upon Tyne, when a local Asian shop bought them in for the now defunct Leela's Southern Indian restaurant.

So do keep us posted with any tips on growing these plants.


AskCy, on 10/8/2007 06:32pm

I've only ever bothered with "curry leaves" once and they were dried, smelt like teabags and tasted a bit like grass..... it put me off bothering with them....

what are fresh ones like?.. do they smell like fenugreek leaves?.. garlic?.. corriander?...

yours wondering... Steve

Caroline, on 12/8/2007 06:58pm

About 4 years ago I brought a couple of small curry leaf plants back from India - inside a plastic bottle with a little soil and one has thrived. It must be the most travelled curry leaf tree in the world as we live in Southern Spain in the Summer where it lives outside and India in the winter so we take the plant in the car back to the UK and leave it there. It is indoors in the winter and is about 1mtr high with a thickish stalk with lots and lots of branches and leaves on it. We planted the other one in our garden in Spain and although it is still alive it does not have many leaves on it - just a 1mtr spindly stem with 8 small branches which has about 14 leaves on each. When we came back here in May I thought it had died as it did not look very well but now we have the warm weather it has grown the small branches.

Must had to do with cold as the one in the UK is warm all the time!!

ZoeinSpain, on 13/8/2007 03:34pm

I don't bother with the dried curry leaves as they have little taste. We used to buy fresh leaves from our local asian grocer in the UK, they kept in the fridge for about three to four weeks. The flavour is difficult to describe, very pungent you only need to use a small amount. I have found that the flavour works really well with dal - fried in some oil with cumin seeds, fresh garlic, chillies etc added at the end of cooking - I think this is referred to as the tarka.

I'm still awaiting a response from the nursery, if I don't hear soon I guess I'll call them but I was hoping not to have to as the calls to the UK are quite pricey. If I eventually manage to get hold of a few plants I'll let you all know how I get on.

Caroline do you have any tips on keeping them in Spain, it sounds like I need to keep it really sheltered during the winter which shouldn't be a problem as it will be on an enclosed terrace.

Caroline, on 13/8/2007 08:25pm

Hi Zoe - I keep the one I move about in a very large pot on the terrace and the one I put in the garden is sheltered but as I said it did not look at all good when we came back and our communial gardener told me he had looked after it but he thought it was too cold. Perhaps, if you are able to get one, you could keep it in a pot incase it does get too cold then you could bring it indoors.

The taste of dried curry leaves is nothing compared to fresh ones - you only have to touch the leaves and you can smell them and I also love to put them in dhal. Let me know if you get one. Caroline.

kennyliza, on 13/8/2007 09:15pm

I wash fresh curry leaves and dry them overnight, then freeze them in a glass jar. I can truly say that I cannot detect any difference in flavour. If you really make sure they are not wet before freezing, they even keep their colour.

Mamta, on 20/8/2007 01:54pm

I have tried growing them a few times in UK, they die after a year or so, mostly when I am away for a few weeks. So now I stick with bought leaves, which are easy to get here in UK


ZoeinSpain, on 21/8/2007 12:29pm

Well I have finally got the response from the nursery so will be ordering a couple of plants soon - it may take a while before they get sent out as I have to send a cheque etc - but I'll let you all know when they arrive and how I get on.

It would be so much easier if they had them in the asian shop in Gibralter (Gib is 100km away from where I live but my OH works there so not really and issue) but they don't even have green finger chillies!

Kavey, on 21/8/2007 02:31pm

Oooh good luck... do let us know how you get on.

There's something rather marvellous about using ingredients that have grown in your own back garden, isn't there?

Phil, on 21/8/2007 08:32pm

I agree, Kavey: to use your own stuff is special. Here in the S of F, I just pop out and cut wild thyme, rosemary and fennel from the land. We also have a ciltivated bay leaf bush, so when I do stocks, the 'bouquet garni' is fresh from the sun-drenched land.

I was also recently introduced to a Mediterranean herb called 'sarriette', which goes well on goat's cheese. No ide what the name is in English.



AskCy, on 21/8/2007 08:45pm

Possibly called "savory" which gets mentioned when you do a search for it, also mentions being grown in the S of France and along the Med.


Mamta, on 22/8/2007 04:56am

Hope your curry leaf plant comes soon and survives. It should, in the warm climate of Gibraltar.

It is lovely to be able to cut your own stuff from the garden, but here in UK, this is not possible during winter, except for bay leaves or fresh coriander, which somehow survives in my garden.


Caroline, on 23/8/2007 06:36am

Zoe - you could be my neighbour - I also live about that distance from Gib.

I don't have a problem with chillies as we grow our own - just take the seeds from chillies and put them in a long planter. We had so many last year both hot and salad chillies that I had to dry them. Good luck with the curry leaves.

ZoeinSpain, on 25/8/2007 07:36pm

Hi Caroline, I think maybe you are towards the Costa del Sol side as you say you are in the south of Spain, I am towards Jerez off the A381, on the Costa de la Luz.

I am hoping that due to the generally all year warm climate that the plants will survive, in fact when they arrive I will try to grow one as a standard (I love gardening, we always had a garden in England, but unfortunately now only a terrace). I grew a lovely standard bay tree from a little seedling in England - you don't know until you try.

AskCy, on 27/8/2007 05:46pm

I'm guessing at the answer (in a pot) but what does grow as a standard mean ?


Mamta, on 27/8/2007 06:33pm

'Standard' is a plat which has all it's side branhes removed except on the top, like a standard Rose, like this;

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