Curry leaves are so inexpensive in this part of the world and easy to grow at home too. They are really great to have around to add a much-needed kick of spicy, peppery goodness to most Indian dishes. They pack one hell of a health kick too, being full of iron, various vitamins, anti-oxidants and folic acid. Curry leaves, or karuvepillai as we call them in Tamil, are said to be good for diabetics, good for your hair, your stomach, even your liver. And have you smelt them? Go on, go grab a whole bunch and take a deep whiff…its delicious!
It’s easy to get curried away (carry, curry…geddit? Too lame? Oh well) when something is this good. But Darsh certainly did when our vegetable lady decided to clear the day’s stock of curry leaves by giving them all to us. Well, we had to act fast, as they dry up pretty easily and dried leaves do not hold as much flavour as the fresh one. So Darsh stripped the leaves from their stems and froze some of them, she placed others in our ice cube tray and filled up each compartment with oil to make lil’ cubes to be thrown into future curries, she made curry leaf-flavoured oil and we still were left with more curry leaves!
So, why not make an Indian-nised pesto? Well, the dish turned out great, it is fast (just blend and cook), and the heat and flavour of the curry leaves and pepper will… well…carry you away!
- 1 cup fresh curry leaves
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- juice and zest of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion
- 1 green chilli
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 inch ginger
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 500g pork loin, cubed
- Additional salt, pepper, lime juice to taste
- Handful parsley leaves, chopped
- To make the 'pesto', grind 3/4 cup curry leaves, 1 tsp coriander powder, salt, peppercorns, lime juice, zest and 1 tbs oil. Add more oil if necessary until it becomes a paste. Don't panic if it doesn't become too smooth.
- Mix the lean pork evenly with the paste. You can cook immediately, but we find pork loin benefits and becomes more tender after being marinated, so if you can, leave for at least two hours.
- In the meantime, blend the onion, chilli, garlic and ginger.
- Cook: Heat oil in pan and cook the mustard seeds until it starts popping and you can smell the spice.
- Throw in the remaining curry leaves, stir for a few minutes and add the blended onion, chili mixture.
- After a few minutes, add the pork and the remaining coriander powder. Add water if the mixture is too thick and check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper or lime juice to taste.
- Once pork is cooked, top with chopped parsley. Serve with rice, hot naan, bulgur wheat... your choice.