Curry leaves are the shiny, dark green, aromatic leaves of a tree from the citrus fruit family that release a deliciously nutty aroma when fried in hot oil. A staple of South Indian cooking, curry leaves are used in Indian and South East Asian cuisine in much the same way as bay leaves are used in the West.
The green midsized leaves are joined to a main stem and have a faint aroma which intensifies while cooking. Curry leaves infuse dishes with a noticeable aroma that is quintessentially Indian.
Fresh curry leaves are increasingly available in supermarkets and greengrocers. Fresh curry leaves freeze well and retain their flavour for many weeks, although it will eventually diminish. Freeze in an airtight container or strong plastic bag, as the fragrance will taint other food in your freezer.
Dried curry leaves are an acceptable, but not ideal, substitute for fresh leaves.