Malaysian curry leaf pesto

Malaysian curry leaf pesto

Given half a choice, I would choose to eat a plate of pesto spaghetti over an aglio olio. But basil leaves are not always easy to find, and pine nuts don’t come cheap.

Since I have a tree in my garden, I usually make curry leaf pesto instead. Here’s the caveat – it’s not for everyone as curry leaves can taste quite pungent and the scent quite strong. But we love this and whenever a fresh crop of leaves sprout, I chop it all off to make pesto. Make sure to choose the young ones if possible as the mature leaves can be a bit harsh and sharper in taste. Curry leaves are said to have a host of benefits – they are good for your heart, blood sugar and apparently packed with vitamins too so it’s a win-win for all.

Usually I have almonds stocked up so I just use that. Yeah, it’s somewhat strange to have the combination of curry leaves and almonds, but it gives a nice interesting nutty flavour to the paste. This time round, I happened to have some cashew nuts at hand, and I must say this was even nicer as cashew has a natural sweetness.


200g spaghetti or linguine or angel hair pasta

Approx 2 cups of curry leaves (substitute 1 cup with spinach for a mellower taste)

3 cloves garlic

1/3 cup or a handful of cashew nuts, toasted

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup Extra Virgin olive oil


After cooking the spaghetti, drain and set aside.

Pat dry the curry leaves as much as you can after washing. Put this into the processor together with the cashew, garlic, salt and pepper, and drizzle the olive oil as you pulse the leaves. Add more oil if it still looks dry after blending as you want a paste with a consistency that’s not too thick.

Toss with the spaghetti, sprinkle some cheese and serve.

Besides spaghetti, you can spread this on bread or over baked potatoes.

Keep the extra by storing in an airtight container