Thursday, February 5, 2009

Clouds and Curry Leaves

It worked! Look at the clouds outside!

Aren't they gorgeous? I can already hear a very delicate pitter-patter on the windows. Since it was raining, I was finally motivated to do something I should have done MONTHS ago.

A while ago, when I wrote about the Lucia-Lucica Fried Rice, I mentioned curry leaves and how much I adore them. The Murraya koenigii's bold, green flavour is indispensible to South Indian cooking, our one big trump card over the North's delicious creamy curries. Put garlic, mustard seeds and curry leaves in some warm oil, stand back and wait for the explosion of delicious smells (and spluttering seeds) and pour the flavoured oil over cooked dal (lentils) or veggies. Shakabooli it's good!

Annoyingly, every time I need them, I have to run to the Indian store and ask them very quietly for a bag of cuddipatha (the Hindi name) since I'm not sure whether the ban has been lifted on them or not. Sometimes they don't have them, and my soul sinks. They're not expensive, but I feel bad about having a whole bag wasting away in my fridge. I've tried drying them but that mutes their flavour and turn an ugly black when cooked. Cue a frantic period of trying to use the fresh curry leaves in everything. Last night, I tried curry leaves with orange juice. Seriously.

When I was little, we had a curry leaf tree in our garden, in a nice shady spot. I remember it being huge, almost as tall as I was. Mum would send me out to grab a sprig whenever she needed it, and I remember Dad once telling me that I couldn't use a pair of scissors; I had to twist it off. I'm not sure what that was about; maybe he was just taking the piss. I'm hoping he'll clear that up in the comment section. Your move, Mr. Merlin.

ANYWAY, what a tediously long way to tell you that a few months ago, I found a company that sells curry leaf plants! I created a section called "I want..." on this blog, and put the link to that plant underneath it, in case anyone was feeling particularly generous. A few weeks later, this arrived in the mail, courtesy of my adorable husband.

Isn't she cute? I was in tears when Bren directed me to the newest inhabitant of my window sill. That Brendan knows just how to treat a little ol' weirdo food-cultist like me: random acts of ice cream and curry leaves.

I was supposed to re-pot the sweet thing months ago, but I got caught up in trying to figure out the perfect soil mixture for her. Today, with the clouds building up, I thought the rain might make her flourish, so I pulled out my favorite pot, the first one I ever painted, and transplanted my little murraya into her new spacious digs.

She is now bathing on the steps alongside the succies, and I'm hoping she'll plump up in the next few days. Her leaves are still young and tender, and lack the smack-your-face flavour of the more mature ones I get at the store. It'll be a while probably before I can cook with her, but I can't wait! Pray I won't kill her like I killed my tomatoes!



Patte said...

Oh, that is such a good story. Sweet of Bren to order that plant for you. It looks so cute in your pretty pot.

You know, you could probably SELL your hand-painted pots!

Anonymous said...

i thought of you when it started to rain : )

i love how you call the curry plant "her" endearing.

aartilla the fun said...

you really think i could sell those pots patte??

laura -- i love calling her, "her"... she's my baby!


Rosesq said...

So sweet of Bren to give you the curry leaf tree as a surprise present. Bren I give you a virtual hug for that.


I think the curry leaf tree should be planted in a mixture of organic manure and sweet soil. This will give you good results.

The pot is really beautifully painted Aarth. I didn't know that it was hand painted by You. About selling the pots, you will never know until you try!! As Dad used to say "nothing ventured nothing gained".

Great job.

Merlin said...

"she", the curry leaf plant sure looks healthy and happy. what i am not so sure is her growth prospects because curry leaf plant or tree is normally planted in mother earth. You might have to repot again after sometime in to a larger, much larger pot.

As regards to not using scissors or knife, it still holds true. it could be a old wives tale but some "tales" are not to tinkered with.
So there, i wasn't B.Sing. In fact my other name is NOTHING-BUT-THE-WHOLE-TRUTH sequeira!

aartilla the fun said...

what is sweet soil, mum?

i can't believe that mr. know-it-all sequeira would trust an old wife to tell him how to cut a sprig of curry leaves. :)

yeah, i will eventually grow it in the ground, but we don't have much in the way of mother earth in our yard... and the instructions said to transfer the sapling into a slightly bigger pot first, and then slowly increase the pot size...

thanks for the comments on the pots!

Rosesq said...

Sweet Soil is limy soil, that is a highly alkaline and a low level of acidity with a PH around 4 to 6 or 7.

In Dubai we used equal proportions of organic manure, sweet soil - (you might get it at the Gardening Center) and potting soil. This was used for all outdoor pots. So this would be good for your tomatoes and herbs as well. Make sure the organic manure has been sterilized to avoid pest infestation.

all text and photographs on aartilla the fun © 2005-2009 Aarti Sequeira unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.