Paucity makes the heart grow fonder

24 Oct

Ah! Curry leaves!  I grew up in an independent house(single-family home for those in the U.S.) in Chennai and where we lived coconut & mango trees are common sight.  And so was it in our house. In addition, the house also has a curry tree – yes it is a tree, over 9 feet tall and thriving.  We picked the leaves when we needed it – for tempering (thalippu) or thogayal –  and it couldn’t have gotten fresher than that.  May be it was the easy availability or abundance or the ignorance of youth, I never quite liked these greenies.  I never understood why the elders went gaga over its flavor and was also not taken in by its medicinal value.  The only use (thanks to my mom!) I had for these leaves was when they were boiled with good old coconut oil and massaged onto my hair.  The first time I missed (or rather longed) for these leaves where when I couldn’t find them.  Yes, we always miss what we can’t have and when something gets harder to get, fonder does our heart grow. Such is human nature, I guess!

When SacramentoSpice posted her curry leaf chicken recipe (yes, you read that right!) and linked Manisha’s version, I remembered that I had bookmarked Manisha’s Kadipatta Chicken a while back.  I wanted to try a vegetarian version of this and was toying with the idea of doing it with either cauliflower or potato (paneer would work well too, now that I think of it).  When a dear friend gave me a ziploc full of curry leaves, picked fresh from her parents’ home, the timing could not have been more perfect 🙂  My recipe is very close to Manisha’s version, but am posting it again to record the minor tweaks that I did. Thanks, Manisha! Onto the Kariveppilai potato-cauliflower fry (I couldn’t make up mind I decided to use both potato & cauliflower)!


1 Tsp oil
1 Tsp black pepper
1 Tsp cinnamon powder
5 cloves
2 red chillies

1 cup Curry leaves, washed & dried
1 Tbsp Tamarind Paste (1/2 golf ball sized piece, if you are using fresh)
1 Tsp turmeric powder
1 onion, chopped fine
1 small tomato, quartered
1/2 cauliflower – chopped into florets
2 medium sized potatos – cubed into 1″ pieces
1 Tsp salt

Saute the spices in a tsp of oil till they are well roasted but not burnt in a saute pan (or kadai). Add the kariveppilai to the spice mixture and saute till the leaves are fried well. Add the chopped onion, quartered tomato and salt, wait for the onion to become translucent.

Let it cool and grind it to a paste along with the tamarind. (Tip: If you want, you can stop right at this stage and use this is a chutney / thogayal to mix with rice or use as a side dish to idli / dosai. If you want to attain kariveppilai nirvana, continue).

Add the cauliflower – potato mixture to the same pot (to keep shy happy), close it with a lid and cook till the veggies are semi-tender.

At this point, add the ground paste and cook till the veggies are fork-tender.  If you want a watery dish, you can add a cup of water at this stage.  But if you are like me and prefer a dry dish, hold the water.

This is a perfect side dish with rice & dhal or with rotis.


Posted by on October 24, 2010 in Cooking, Desi, Traditional cooking


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

7 responses to “Paucity makes the heart grow fonder

  1. Pallavi

    October 25, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    Never tried this before, but it does look yummy!

    • A-kay

      October 25, 2010 at 2:00 PM

      Me neither but it was yummy. This one is definitely a keeper.

  2. Shankari

    October 25, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Back in those days, you had mentioned to me that curry leaves was very good for hair growth. I never used to like eating the leaves till you said those magic words to me. Have been very sincere in my intake since then irrespective of whether it had a good effect on the hair or not 🙂 Now, I use the same trick to make Na eat her curry leaves too. Paying a dollar for a few leaves, I would rather she ate it than threw 🙂

    • A-kay

      October 25, 2010 at 1:59 PM

      Wow, did I? And I am impressed, you remember. My mom used to tell me that but unlike your Na, I never cared for it 🙂 But I remember amma used to make curry leaf induced oil religiously for my hair and whenever someone compliments my hair, I send a thank you her way…

  3. Shankari

    October 26, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    Oh! I remember alright 🙂 Such fond memories tend to stay with us and we always look back with a smile, don’t you think?

    • A-kay

      October 27, 2010 at 2:41 AM

      Oh absolutely! It is such memories that makes life interesting 🙂

  4. UL

    November 7, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    same pinch, we had mangoes, coconuts and curry leaves -(trees) in our backyard while growing up 🙂 oh i love curry leaves, my curries usually have a lot of curry leaves – will need to try this one too..


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