Is there a substitute for curry leaves in the Mauritian Prawn Curry? If not, will omitting them ruin the flavor?
Nigella's Mauritian Prawn Curry (from NIGELLA SUMMER) uses curry leaves as these infuse the sauce with an extra level of flavour. The leaves can be bought fresh from some Asian grocers and also on-line. They can be frozen, but make sure that they are in a tightly sealed container as they can taint other foods that they are stored with.
The curry tree is a distant relative of the citrus family and the leaves are quite aromatic, with some describing them as having a slightly pungent, bitter taste. Unfortunately the flavour is fairly unique so there is not a great substitute so you could omit the leaves. A combination of bay leaf and citrus zest is also sometimes seen as the closest alternative to curry leaves. We suggest using a vegetable peeler to pare the zest from a lime in large strips, with as little pith as possible, and add this to the curry along with a large dried bay leaf. Remove both the zest strips and bay leaf before serving the curry. However, please bear in mind that the flavour of the curry will not quite be the same.