How to Use Curry Leaves

Updated July 19, 2017

Though curry powder may once have included curry leaves among its ingredients, the two seasonings do not share any other similarities. Shiny, dark green curry leaves come from the curry leaf plant -- no relation to the curry plant. The leaves have a strong lemony aroma, and their flavour is essential to many Indian and Sri Lankan dishes. Look for shiny, dark green leaves with no brown or bruised spots in the produce section at an Indian grocer.

Remove curry leaves from the stems before using and discard the stems.

Slice the leaves into thin ribbons and add them to curries, dals, chutneys or salads.

Heat a teaspoon to a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add curry leaves to the oil and cook them for one to two minutes, then add prepared vegetables, rice, dal or meat and cook for a few more minutes, depending on the dish.

Heat curry leaves and other spices used in Indian cooking, such as mustard seeds or cumin seeds, in oil until they begin to sizzle. Strain the oil, then brush it on bread or stir it into plain yoghurt for flavour.

Place the leaves in a basket, and put the basket in a cool, dark area of the house for three to five days to dry them. Use whole or crumbled dried leaves in the same way as fresh leaves.


Wrap fresh curry leaves in paper towels and place them in a plastic bag. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Vacuum-pack curry leaves and freeze them for longer term storage.


Discard curry leaves when they begin to turn brown, or if a crushed leaf does not give off any aroma.

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Petra Wakefield is a writing professional whose work appears on various websites, focusing primarily on topics about science, fitness and outdoor activities. She holds a Master of Science in agricultural engineering from Texas A&M University.