It is the bestseller at the bar at Benaras,” says international chef Atul Kochhar, swirling the iconic Mumbai Martini, the irresistible blend of vodka with ginger strains, curry leaves and a slash of lime. The signature cocktail has wowed diners at his Michelin-star restaurant Benaras in London, and is now a prized drink on the menu at his Mumbai eatery, N.R.I. (Not Really Indian). But the karipatta is intrinsically Indian. And the edgy twist the slightly pungent leaf brings to the drink lends it that winsome edge.

The modest curry leaf is reinventing itself with utmost pizzazz. From forming the core ingredient of the hot, spicy South Indian tadka that laces idli, sambhar, appam and aloo, the karipatta has soared to the elixir bounty yonder in zippy forms, much beyond the finely ground powder, flavoursome rubs and seasoning essential, forms in which it nestled in grandma’s kitchen caddy. “The curry leaves rolled into cocktails help in maintaining sugar levels in the body, especially in the tropical Indian climate,” says Kochhar. Talk about a cool way to stay cool.

Consumers today are well travelled, they like experimenting with different flavours in classic drinks such as martinis and margaritas,” says Harshard Jain, Business Head, Beverage Solutions, Marimbula, a leader in the mixers manufacturing arena. “The growing trend is the inclusion of Indian ethnic flavours in cocktails that has given rise to the use of more locally produced ingredients such as karipatta. Being bitter, the leaf works beautifully with sour-based fruit syrups, including strawberry and raspberry. This balances out the flavours while enhancing the taste and giving classic cocktails a refreshing twist. Another growing trend is the use of cold-infused karipatta in flavoured iced tea.”

Shilpi Madan for New Indian Express

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