Learn how easy it is to make traditional and authentic South Indian Curry Leaf Rice at home.
Our quick & easy aromatic Curry Leaf Rice recipe features flavourful ingredients like basmati, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves and cashews.
This healthy rice dish is vegan, vegetarian, dairy free and gluten free. Enjoy it for lunch or dinner alongside your favourite Indian curry, salad and chutney.
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What Is Curry Leaf?
The curry tree, Murraya koenigii or Bergera koenigii, is a tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, and is native to Asia.
The glossy leaves are vibrant green and teardrop-shaped, about one-and-a-half inches in length. Also called sweet neem leaves, they grow on the curry tree, which is part of the citrus family. These aromatic leaves have a lemony scent and a distinct, pungent taste, similar to anise or lemongrass.
The herb is a signature flavor from South India, and an essential ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine like curries, dals, and soups. Curry leaves are not a dominant taste in cooking, but their subtle flavour is essential, giving meals a richer and more robust flavour.
We recommend using fresh curry leaf in our basmati rice recipe, which you can purchase at an Indian or South Asian supermarket as well as online at Amazon. You can also purchase dried curry leaf online if you’re in a pinch.
Difference Between Curry Leaves and Curry Powder
Despite the similar names, curry leaf and curry powder are two very different ingredients.
- Curry leaf is an herb grown on the curry leaf tree.
- Curry powder is a spice mixture made of coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper.
- Curry leaves are mostly found in Southern India and Sri Lanka.
- Curry powder was invented by the British to easily add flavour to curry dishes.
Travel to India by Cooking Curry Leaf Rice at Home
I love traveling through Asia.
My first visit to Asia had me living in South Korea for a year as a teacher and it’s where I was first introduced to fermented vegetables like kimchi.
After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout Asia for 6 months, visiting the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, The Maldives and India.
I spent over a month traveling through India. I started in the capital, eating my way through the bustling markets and fine dining restaurants in Delhi. I then embarked on a magical weekend getaway to awe-inspiring Taj Mahal in Agra. In India’s north you’ll find plenty of barbecue and wheat based side dishes like scorched naan bread.
For the second half of my Indian adventure I explored the southern state of Kerala. The south is famous for its seafood, coconut, tropical fruits, and rice based side dishes like crispy dosa and Curry Leaf Rice. The colonial capital of Cochin was formerly run by the Portuguese. It’s also one of the only places in India you can find beef on a menu.
After enjoying a jaunt to the Maldives my India trip came to a close in the Bollywood capital, bustling and cosmopolitan Mumbai. The city is famous for its specialty street foods and fine dining restaurants at opulent luxury hotels. The Taj Mahal Palace in particular serves one of the world’s most famous Afternoon Teas.
What I found most fascinating is India’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in France, Germany, Italy or Spain, each city in India had its own local speciality.
After you’ve traveled to India, return home to prepare an authentic and fragrant feast for friends and family featuring this flavourful Curry Leaf Rice recipe!
Where To Eat Curry Leaf Rice
If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to local Indian restaurants that serve traditional Curry Leaf Rice.
Haven’t traveled to India before? It may be helpful to first sample Curry Leaf Rice at a local Indian restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can assess the desired rice to cashew nut ratio and ideal main courses to serve with the side dish before trying to make the recipe at home.
In Toronto, popular Indian restaurants that may serve South Indian Curry Leaf Rice include Udupi Palace, Lahore Tikka House and Kothur Indian Cuisine.
My Family Loves South Indian Rice
I’ll never forget my first experience eating Curry Leaf Rice.
I woke up at a luxury hotel in Cochin, the capital of the southern state of Kerala, to find a decadent breakfast buffet. I felt like I had arrived in a different country as the dishes in Southern India are unique to what you’d find in northern city’s like Agra and Delhi.
The waiter asked me if I’d like to try a local breakfast speciality, crispy dosa served with a selection of chutneys. I remember sipping bitter darjeeling tea while dipping dosa into spicy chutney. I experienced an unforgettable explosion of flavours in my mouth as hot tea muddled with the flavours of spiced chutney. A wonderful way to wake up to the world!
The waiter saw that I loved the dosa and moments later brought over a small bowl of Curry Leaf Rice, an eye catching rice dish featuring crispy fried curry leaf, roasted cashews and flecks of cumin and mustards seeds. After devouring the small bowl in a matter of seconds I realized I was forever in love with the simplicity of South Indian cuisine.
After traveling throughout India and eating at some of the world’s best Indian restaurants I was excited to share my love for Curry Leaf Rice with family in Toronto.
I’ve hosted many Indian-themed feasts, showcasing dishes from Delhi to Bengal via fragrant curries, fresh salads and hearty soups.
I served a creamy Chicken Shahi Korma with crunchy Indian Onion Salad for an al fresco lunch in the spring. While in the summer at the cottage in Muskoka we enjoyed a vegetarian feast featuring Shahi Paneer and Indian Chickpea Crepes.
When I finally introduced my parents to Curry Leaf Rice their eyes bulged with glee. I knew they’d both love the rice dish because it featured crunchy roasted nuts and the flavour of the spices wasn’t overpowering. It was the perfect accompaniment to a spicy fish curry.
If you’ve traveled to India on holiday there is no better way to share your adventure at home with family and friends at home then by serving our homemade Curry Leaf Rice recipe.
Curry Leaf Rice Health Benefits
Our healthy vegan Curry Leaf Rice recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Nearly 50% of the people in the world get over 50% of their daily calories from rice. If eating brown rice featuring nutritious bran you’ll enjoy health benefits like cancer risk reduction and diabetes control.
A rich source of blood-building iron, cumin may also help balance your blood sugar levels and reduce bad cholesterol. It is also traditionally used as a digestive aid.
Curry Leaves are known for containing healthy antioxidants, reducing heart disease risk factors, antibacterial properties and benefits of blood sugar control.
Mustard Seeds are good for your bones as they are packed with a mineral called selenium, which makes your bones strong. They also help to strengthen your nails, hair, and teeth. Mustard seeds contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help in relieving pain in the gum, bones, and teeth.
Cashews are low in sugar and rich in fibre, heart-healthy fats, and plant protein. They’re also a good source of copper, magnesium, and manganese — nutrients important for energy production, brain health, immunity, and bone health.
Indian Rice Cooking Tips
If it’s your first time cooking South Indian Rice at home be sure to review our recipe below. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started.
- We suggest using a large wok when preparing this easy rice dish as it allows you to distribute the heat evenly and offers plenty of space to toss and stir the ingredients together.
- We always suggest using fresh curry leaves when cooking Indian food but if you can’t find them at a local shop you can order fresh curry leaves or dried curry leaves online.
- We’ve used canola oil in this recipe but you could add additional flavour to the dish by substituting peanut oil or coconut oil.
- We’ve used white basmati rice in this recipe but if you’re looking to enjoy additional health benefits use a whole grain brown rice.
- If you like spicy food feel free to add dried red chilies or green serrano chilies.
- Double the recipe and you’ll have fragrant rice to enjoy the rest of the week for lunches. The dish keeps up to a week in an airtight container stored in the fridge.
What To Serve with Curry Leaf Rice
Curry Leaf Rice is one of our favourite rice dishes to cook from Southern India. The healthy vegan recipe can be served as a light lunch with daal or curry or as a side dish for a larger Indian feast.
If you’re hosting a large Indian-themed dinner party buffet you may want to serve the dish alongside Pitod Ki Sabji Vegetarian Indian Chickpea Dumplings, Vegetarian Malai Kofta, Vegetarian Shahi Paneer, Vegan One Pot Indian Thakkali Tomato Biryani, Chanachur Chivda Bombay Mixture Namkeen, Parippu Vada, Chingri Malai Curry, Pepper Milagu Rasam Vegan South Indian Soup, Creamy Vegetarian Indian Paneer Soup, Chicken Manchow Soup, Turmeric Pumpkin Spice Indian Cake, Chicken Shahi Korma, Vegetarian Shahi Paneer and Indian Crepes.
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Best Curry Leaf Rice with Cashews Recipe
Curry Leaf Rice with Cashews
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Wooden spoon
- 200 g Basmati Rice
- 1 tbsp Canola Oil
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 20 Curry Leaves
- 100 g Raw Cashews
- 1 tsp Salt
- Rinse the rice several times until the water runs clear. Drain, then transfer the rice to a small pan. Soak in 450 ml of water for 30 minutes.
- Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover and continue to cook over the lowest heat possible for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, but keep the pan covered for 10 minutes.
- Set wok over medium heat. Pour in the oil and when it's hot add the mustard seeds. Allow to pop, then add the cumin seeds and curry leaves. Stir fry for 15 seconds. Add the cashews and salt, stir, and let the nuts turn golden brown. Tip in the rice and mix together, ensuring that the spices and nuts are fully combined throughout the rice. Serve hot.
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