Recently I was watching a cookery show on TV *shhh dont ask how many I watch, ‘cos I watch quite a lot of food shows on TV* It was a show from a chef I love a lot – Jamie Oliver. He was cooking a classic Brit dish with Indian twist. He took a bunch of curry leaves and in one swift movement, pulled the leaves away from the stem. Nothing wrong so far – in fact, I love doing it so much too. And then he did the blasphemy of trying to explain the taste of curry leaf. He said it tastes a bit like lime. Oh so wrong. Curry leaves are anything but sour. And they have a very distinct flavor that is unmatched to any other herb. That is one of the reasons why Indian food (especially South Indian food) has a lot of curry leaf tempering. I started questioning the chef and other people who pass off information with half knowledge. For example, if I have never tasted bacon and if someone says it is quite sour – I would trust them right? Hmmm.
As I said, curry leaves are used in almost every other dish in one form or other in South Indian cooking. Usually tempered in hot oil, curry leaves can transform a boring dish to a highly flavorful one. Not just that, curry leaves are so good for health too. I remember as a kid, I would pick out the curry leaves and secretly throw them off when my parents weren’t looking. Apparently, curry leaves are good for your hair, eyes and for digestion too. So, it is always good to incorporate them into a dish so that there is a good intake of it in the regular diet.
Karuveppillai or Karuvepaku tastes simply superb in a gravy or in the form of chutney powder – more like gun powder for rice. I used abundant curry leaves with a few other spices to make a batch of curry leaves chutney powder and with idlis, it tasted divine. This chutney powder or idli podi stays well for over two weeks in an air tight container. Not only for idlis or dosas, this tastes great with rice as well as rotis. I love sprinkling some on hot rotis and make a quick roll for myself to satisfy my hunger pangs. So here is how I make it.
To make Karuveppillai Idli Podi | Curry Leaves Chutney Powder
What I used –
- Curry Leaves, 2 cups (tightly packed)
- Urad Dal, ⅓ cup
- Chana Dal, ⅓ cup
- Dried Red Chillies, 10-12
- Cumin Seeds, 2 tsp
- Coriander Seeds, 2 tsp
- Fresh Tamarind, small marble sized ball
- Salt, as required
How I made –
1. In a wide bottomed pot, put the curry leaves. Wash in running water for 2-3 times to remove any dirt. Strain off the water and allow the curry leaves to dry for 10 mins.
2. Meanwhile, heat a thick bottomed pan. Add urad dal and dry roast on low flame until golden brown. Remove onto a plate. In the same pan, add chana dal and dry roast until golden brown on low flame. Remove onto the same plate.
3. In the pan, add dried red chillies and dry roast until there are black spots and the chillies look slightly puffed up (should take about couple of mins). Remove them onto the plate. In the same pan, add the tamarind and let it heat for a couple of mins. Remove onto the plate as well.
4. Add cumin and coriander seeds, dry roast until nice aroma comes up. Remove onto the plate for cooling. Add curry leaves and on low flame, let the leaves dehydrate. The leaves would wilt and get dried without losing color. Remove from heat. Let everything cool down completely.
5. In a mixer/blender jar, add curry leaves along with red chillies and salt required. Grind until smooth. Add the roasted urad and chana dal along with cumin and coriander seeds. Grind until smooth.
6. Store in an air tight container. Serve as a side for idli, dosa, roti or rice.
- Make sure to clean the curry leaves by removing any that are infested. Wash and let them air dry for 10 mins atleast.
- Tamarind is optional but gives a nice punch to the chutney powder.
- Ensure slow roasting so that the lentils are roasted evenly and until golden brown.
- Make sure the mixture is completely cooled down before grinding. Otherwise, the steam could ruin the chutney powder.
- Store in an air tight container for over two weeks – need not keep it in fridge.
- Serve along with gingely/sesame oil for best taste. If not available, vegetable oil can be used.