Murraya koenigii: Curry leaf tree

Family: Rutaceae
Common name: Curry tree, Curry bush, Curry leaf tree

If you have a very basic understanding of Indian cuisine, especially South Indian cuisine, you would know how important curry leaves are. We cannot cook without them, the green flecks of healthy goodness that adorn every dish, every chutney. The aroma that wafts from the curry, when curry leaves are mixed with coconut oil is something we Keralites have grown up with.

Curry leaf tree is native to the Indian sub-continent and a staple in every kitchen garden. The tree can grow to a height of 4-6 meters, a fully grown tree producing many small trees around the root. Curry leaf plants produce small white flowers which mature into green, and then black berries, each holding a seed. The berries are also edible, with a slight sweetness to it.

Most dishes in India are prepared with oil, mustard seeds, onion and curry leaves as a base for frying. They are also used as garnish, in soups, vada, rasam, sambhar and everything else. Some dishes have fried and ground curry leaves as their gravy base. Curry leaves can dried and stored for a long time, in case it’s not available fresh.

Curry leaf plants have many medicinal uses in Ayurveda and traditional medicine. Their leaves have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial properties, helping in healing wounds and burns. They help in controlling diabetes, also helps in relieving nausea and stomach ailments. Curry leaves are used extensively in hair care preparations.

Propagation is from seeds.

Photo Courtesy: Paulsy Willy

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