Curry Leaf Ranch is the best homemade dressing ever and only takes a few minutes to throw together. Instead of the regular 'ol dried herbs like parsley and dill, try this ranch with an Indian favorite - curry leaves! Use it as a dressing or a dipping sauce for pizza, chickpea fries, chicken wings, salads, etc.
Curry leaves are absolutely the most underrated herb in cooking. I've genuinely never seen it used outside of Indian cooking, which is an absolute shame because it's bursting in flavor and aroma!
I'm so thankful my mom actually grows a fairly large tree in her backyard in Arizona where it can thrive in the heat. Well, "fairly large" by my standards for a curry tree in the U.S. The leaves are always ripe for the picking, and if we have too many she'll dry them out and pulverize them into a powder for me to take back to my home in Manhattan. Besides her chole, it's one of my favorite things to stock up on when I visit. I add it to my curries and tadkas for as long as I have it.
But recently, I visited an Indian restaurant called Gazab in the Lower East Side. They served up a flavorful curry leaf ranch with their chicken wings that absolutely blew my mind!! In place of dill, parsley, and chives... why not use curry leaves? This is my homage to that unforgettable ranch dressing.
What is Curry Leaf?
Don't be mistaken, curry leaves are NOT curry powder. Curry powder is a spice blend invented by the British to make Indian dishes.
Curry leaves, also known as kadi patta in Hindi or sweet neem leaves, are an aromatic herb found on tropical curry trees which are native to Asia, specifically the Indian subcontinent. They are very sensitive to cold temperatures due to being a tropical plant. They grow easily in the right conditions and produce long, beautiful stalks with aromatic tear-drop shaped leaves.
The leaves are citrusy in smell with a sweet, pungent taste. They are used in many dishes in the Indian subcontinent, ranging from chutneys to flavor enhancers in curries. It's commonly fried in fat, like ghee or oil, on high heat along with mustard seeds and cumin seeds to release its unique and subtle flavor. It makes any dish richer in flavor.
Curry leaves have also been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. To this day, several people still make tea with curry leaves for the medicinal properties.
Interestingly enough, curry leaves are actually banned in several places due to carrying pests. It's not the easiest herb to come by, but it's not entirely impossible either! You can purchase curry plants from Etsy sellers, which is what I did. Hence, the baby curry leaves you see in this post that are still absolutely delicious! You can also purchase the stalks from several Indian markets.
How to make Curry Leaf Ranch
You'll want to work with the fresh curry leaves before going ahead and making the ranch. Depending on the route you want to go, it may take a few days or no time at all before you're ready to make the ranch.
The first option is to dry out your curry leaves, which can take 2-4 days depending on the weather conditions. This will leave you with a dried herb that you can easily crumble into the ranch.
The second option is to fry the fresh curry leaves on high heat for a few minutes until they're crispy. Once they're crispy, they can be crumbled into the ranch. This may cause a bit of an oily ranch, but the curry leaves will release a ton of flavor.
How to Dry Curry Leaves
Drying curry leaves is a great way to preserve fresh curry leaves to use for curries and tadkas. It retains most of the delicious fragrance and flavor, especially during the winter season when they may start to die in colder climates.
If you have a curry leaf plant at home, gently remove the entire stalk from the stem. Pluck the leaves from the stalk and thoroughly rinse them off in a colander.
Transfer the washed leaves to a towel and gently pat them dry. Spread out the leaves in a shaded area to preserve the flavor and aroma. Allow them to dry for 2-3 days, depending on the weather. Once they are dried, they'll be crunchy and a shade or two lighter.
Once they've dried, store them in a sanitized airtight container with plenty of space for up to a year. They crumble easily, similar to bay leaves, and can be added as a dry herb to any recipe. They can also be ground into a powdered form by transferring them to a spice grinder and running it until the leaves have broken down.
Making the Ranch
Make the curry leaf ranch just as you would a regular ranch! Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and crumbled or powdered curry leaves in a large bowl. Give it a good stir to combine, and then slowly pour in the buttermilk until you have a thick, smooth dressing with a pourable consistency.
What to Serve with
Use Curry Leaf Ranch in place of any classic ranch dressing!! It's great as a dipping sauce or dressing for just about anything - chicken wings, salads, fries, etc.
You'll especially love it with these Chickpea Fries!
How to Store
Store the homemade ranch in a well sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. This is assuming you've used fresh dairy products in regards to the buttermilk and sour cream.
More Indian Condiments to try
Curry Leaf Ranch
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon dried curry leaf, see notes
- ½ cup buttermilk, or milk
- Crumble the dried or fried curry leaves.
- Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and crumbled curry leaves into a large bowl and whisk until combined.
- Slowly pour buttermilk into the mixture while whisking until the desired consistency is achieved - it should run in a steady stream if poured.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Sounds wonderful. I’m using fresh leaves, so wonder if it might work to slow fry a lot of leaves in oil, cool, strain and use the curry leaf flavoured oil to make the mayonnaise. Will try it after I do a big prune of my outdoor tree next week. Thank you for the great looking recipe.
Shweta Garg says
Oh super interesting! That sounds delicious! Let me know how it goes 🙂
Is there a substitute for the mayo?
Shweta Garg says
I’ve done just greek yogurt and sour cream before and it worked well
Could I use the dried out curry leaves in the back of my crisper? 😩
Shweta Garg says
I don’t see why not! Let me know how it works.