Let’s get this out of the way: curry leaves are different from curry powder. The leaves are like the parsley of India; they are part of the citrus family (but don’t have a lemony flavor). In India, you can find the leaves floating in just about every sauce, but here in the Bay Area, the delicate curry leaves are a little more rare:
Native to South India, the plant is a fast-growing deciduous shrub or small tree with arching, frond-like branches and a graceful appearance. The leaves resemble small, supple bay leaves, and they are arrayed in a neat row along either side of the slender, woody stem. The tree likes a hot climate with summer rainfall, and it can’t bear the cold. Bay Area weather doesn’t suit it, although some people reportedly keep it going in containers brought inside for the winter.Based on Web site postings, Southern California gardeners have more luck with it, although even they complain that it is finicky. Commercial cultivation in the United States appears to be limited to Florida and Hawaii, with only the Hawaiian harvest allowed into California. The Florida crop is barred because it may harbor citrus pests.
In addition to nearly every Indian dish (particularly South Indian dishes), curry leaves can also be used to give an extra kick to several Western dishes, like chowders or sauteed shrimp.
According to the Chronicle article, the only place to find curry leaves in San Francisco proper is at Bombay Bazaar on Valencia. Has anyone found them elsewhere?