Culinary Creations: Curry Leaf

Curry Leaf Plant Curry Leaf Plant

Mention curry leaf and most would hail it as a magical ingredient essential to South Indian cooking and Southeast Asian cuisine. Enhancing the taste of curries, dals and even soups, its subtle but signature flavour is distinctive, making any dish intense and full-bodied in character.

I remember preparing laksa (a spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup) for my family after learning it at Home Economics class back in school. I fervently chopped up the curry leaves, my best buddy then, to ensure that my first-ever dish turned out edible!

Curry leaves have a surprising plethora of goodness in them. They are said to help fight diabetes, improve one’s eyesight and keep anaemia at bay. Being rich in anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-oxidative properties, and high in vitamins A and C are also in its list of health benefits.

Gardens by the bay

Curry leaves

Gardens by the bay

Curry powder

Have you ever wondered about the difference between curry leaves and curry powder, and had the mistaken notion that the latter comes from the former? They are in fact two completely different things! While curry leaves are from the curry leaf plant, native to India and Sri Lanka, curry powder is a spice mix consisting of coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne, invented by the British to add flavour to Indian dishes!

Misconceptions aside, here’s a lovely dish that you can try out with the curry leaf!

Golden Crisp Prawns with Curry Leaves

Golden Crisp Prawns with Curry Leaves Recipe extracted from
  • 3 salted egg yolks
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 12 medium-sized prawns, deveined and deshelled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp corn flour
  • 3 tbsp rice flour
  • 20 grams butter + 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 chillies, sliced
  • 4 stalks curry leaves
Garnish ingredients:
  • 1 red chilli, julienned
  • 1 iceberg lettuce leaf
  • 4 iceberg lettuce leaves, julienned
  • 1 tomato, halved and sliced
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves, fried
  • 3 chillies, sliced half lengthwise

Serves 2 people

  1. Place the salted egg yolks into a dish and steam it in the oven for 15 minutes on high setting, until thoroughly cooked. Mash with a fork and allow to cool.
  2. Marinate the prawns with salt and white pepper.
  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs. Then combine it with the prawns.
  4. In a separate bowl, add the corn flour and rice flour. Mix it well.
  5. Heat the oil in a frying pan till hot, then dip the prawns in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Fry the prawns in batches for 1 to 2 minutes till golden – but do not overcook. Drain the prawns.
  6. In a separate skillet, heat butter and oil mixture, then sauté garlic, chilli and curry leaves for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the salted egg yolks and stir till creamy, then put in the prawns. Toss to coat, turn off heat and dish up.
  8. To serve, arrange salad of lettuce and tomatoes, then lay the prawns all around the vegetables, reserving a few on the bed of sliced lettuce. Garnish with red chilli and fried curry leaves.

Written by: Beverly Ho, Senior Manager (Volunteers, Programming)

In her down time, Beverly can be found immersed in craftwork and gardening, or eyes glued to a thriller/ sci-fi movie/ novel! She enjoys cooking, singing, photography, gaming on her PS4 and just that bit of simple sports… since the limbs are now a lot less flexible with age.

This article is part of our Culinary Creations series.