Tag Archives: curry leaves

CarolCooks2…Friday Food Reviews…Aromatic Leaves…When is a bay leaf not a bay leaf?

Welcome to Friday Food Reviews, where I will cover a different food or product each week and look at… what they are.  where do they grow, what can we substitute them for in a recipe, and are they safe to eat, store, use, cook, or anything connected to that food? or product..all the why’s and the wherefores…it will, of course, be mainly my own opinion or a known fact…good or bad…there may even be a tried and tested recipe…or three… today I am looking at…Aromatic Leaves

Why am I looking at aromatic leaves?… As you know I am a foodie and I am always looking at recipes…I watch many cooking shows/videos and just recently I have been watching Rick Stein in India…We love curry and I always make my own spice mixes when I make an Indian Curry…if you get to watch this series and love Indian food I have picked up many little hints and tips and it is worth watching…

When I make my Indian spice mixes I always use bay leaves, in fact, I use bay leaves in many recipes in spag bol, stews, and casseroles they are one of my most used leaves…Fresh or dried they are included in many recipes…

As with most foods bay leaves are known by many other names around the world for example…also called laurel leaf, the leaf of the sweet bay tree (Laurus nobilis), is an evergreen of the family Lauraceae, indigenous to countries bordering the Mediterranean…A species of plant in the myrtle family and related to allspice, it’s also found throughout the Caribbean where it is known quite simply as “the spice tree”  or “sweet bay” and the “bay rum tree.” …

But when is a bay leaf not a bay leaf? …this has been my most recent discovery while watching Rick Stein…the answer is when it is an Indian Bay Leaf...also according to Rick Stein, they are not interchangeable when cooking Indian food there is a difference in taste if you use a laurel leaf…

How to easily tell the difference...the laurel leaf for the purpose of this illustration is a smaller leaf and only has one vein the Indian bay leaf has three veins…as pictured below…

Most importantly is the difference in taste… the Indian bay leaf embodies a mild cinnamon flavour, while the laurel bay leaf imparts essences of pine and lemon. The Indian bay leaf is used extensively in Indian cuisine, what may be confusing is that in most Indian recipes they are referred to as simply “bay leaf”, though the two are not to be used interchangeably…I have found when my Indian friends share recipes with me they refer to just ” bay leaf “and I have never before thought to question this…

In India, it is known as Tej Patta. This culinary herb makes for an integral part of Indian cuisine, thanks to its distinctive flavour and fragrance.

I am so happy that I now know there is a difference thanks to Mr Rick Stein…I am also now the proud owner of the said Indian Bay leaves and can’t wait to make some more spice mix and taste the difference…

Curry Leaf…

My two curry plants are one of my pride and joys hubby would love to cut them back but he is not allowed when they are in flower they are so pretty they have lovely little clusters of white flowers and then little red berries that although edible I leave for my feathered friends…

Native to Asia and extensively used in Indian cuisine the curry plant can also be referred to as sweet neem although it is of a different family to neem…Curry leaves taste a bit like asafoetida, another essential element of cooking in regions like Tamil Nadu and Kerala. But it also has a more herbal feel, slightly like basil or kaffir lime…although I grow it here I have not yet come across any Thai recipes that use this leaf…They do not taste like curry…

Furthermore thanks to Rick Stein I have discovered more uses for this aromatic leaf…

The most popular way to use curry leaves is by adding them to your cooking, specifically when tempering for dals or curries. They are typically added along with mustard seeds, and green chillies initially, before adding other ingredients. They can also be added to chutneys and salads, chopped finely or left whole…they are not thick evergreen leaves like the bay leaves and are quite edible whereas a bay leaf isn’t it is just for flavour.

Kaffir Lime Leaves…

You will notice Lime leaves are quite distinctive in so much as they grow as a double leaf…Its rind and crushed leaves emit an intense citrus fragrance…its essential oil is also used in perfumery…

Here in Thailand, it is an essential ingredient in many recipes and gives Tom Yum soup its floral pungency, it is also known as bai makrut…I was reading last week that some stores are changing the name from kaffir lime to Makrut Lime in the UK as the name Kaffir is a derogatory word to some communities…

Next week I will be talking about some other aromatic leaves which are used in the culinary world and also in my kitchen…

Thank you for joining me today as always I look forward to your comments and to how you use these leaves in your kitchen…x

Beetroot Thoran (South Indian Style Sabzi/Veg)

Good morning from sunny Thailand…I came across this lovely recipe as I was doing my early morning catch up…I love beetroot, coconut and as you know Chilli…This recipe has it all so a definite one for me to try…I hope you enjoy it also 🙂 Have a lovely day 🙂

Masalachilli - A Celebration of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, with a twist!

Beetroot Thoran – A South Indian Style Beetroot Sabzi / Vegetable

I try & include beetroots in our diet by adding them in our weekly meals. Usually it’s a raita (yoghurt based) or boiled, sliced & stuffed as a sandwich for breakfast or the humble Thoran from Kerala that is most loved at home so much so that there are second helpings demanded. People who hate beetroots – Are you listening??

I find a lot of people dislike this vegetable for many number of reasons but the most important being the earthy flavor & aroma. I feel the problem can be solved by steaming them in the right way (excessive steaming leads to nutrition loss & under steaming makes it tough & difficult to digest). Now there is a growing trend amongst bakers to include beetroots in chocolate based cakes, brownies etc. I haven’t tried it yet but will get there…

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