(Last Updated on : 03/02/2014)
Curry leaves' name itself describes its function. The leaves used to make curry. It is also called Sweet Neem Leaves. It is a good source of vitamin A and they provide a rich source of calcium. These leaves are primarily used in providing a flavour in Indian cooking. Since the oxalic acid concentration is high in these leaves, its nutritional value is affected. These leaves have several herbal remedial qualities and are mainly derived from an aromatic and deciduous shrub. Curry leaves are highly aromatic. In southern part of the country, curry leaves are mainly used in as it provide a fine flavour to the curries, vegetable, pickles, chutneys, soups as well as butter milk preparations.
The botanical name of Curry is Murraya koenigii (Linn.) and it is of the family Sprengel Rutaceae. Curry leaves are called by different names in different regional languages of the country. Like for instance, it is called 'Barsunga' in Bengali language
, 'Kari patta','Meetha neem', 'Katneem', in Hindi language
, in Telugu language it is known as'Karivepaku, 'Kadhi Limbu' in Marathi language
, and in Kannada language
it is called' Karibue'. Scientifically speaking, the curry leaf contains: 2.6% oil, beta-caryophyllene, beta-gurjenene, beta-elemene, beta-phellandrene, beta-thujene, alpha-selinene, beta-bisabolene, beta-transocimene and beta-cadinene.
In Indian cookery
, the leaves of Curry plants are used raw and fresh for few recipes, while the leaves are also used after being fried in oil or butter for a small period. The Curry Leaves possess soft surface, but these are generally removed prior to serving.
Origin of Curry leaves:
The plant is found almost across the whole India and Sri Lanka which is perhaps why it is so much in use in the cuisine. Probably, their flavour went to the rest of the south Asian countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. Today, they are found and used only in countries that have, historically, had Indian influences.
The history of curry leaves dates back to the ancient period. Tamil literature mentions in a specific manner about the significance and use of the curry leaves. Interestingly, the use of these leaves in Indian cuisine is cited in old Kannada texts. It is basically used as a spice. It is an aromatic deciduous tree which is 5 meters tall and fifteen to forty centimetres in diameter. This tree is mainly cultivated in homesteads, largely on a scale of plantation.
Types of Curry Leaves
Generally three types of curry leaves are popular in the country. These are fresh curry leaves, sauteed or fried curry leaves and dried curry leaves. Fresh curry leaves are frozen and vacuum-packed, or kept in a refrigerated condition for two weeks. Sauteed or fried curry leaves is edible and thus it is not removed from food before serving. It is generally used in the dishes of South India such as lentil, vegetable curries, etc. The dried curry leaves are those which are air-dried for four or five days, then kept in plastic bags and thus utilised in the preparation of food for about a year.
Usage of Curry Leaves:
Medical properties of Curry Leaves
Besides cooking curry leaves have also various medical properties. This herb has several medicinal properties. Like for instance, its leaves and bark can be used as a tonic, stomachic, stimulant and carminative. It can help in reducing blood sugar. Roasted leaves are effective to stop vomiting. Moreover, the juice of this plant can provide a relief from kidney pain. It is an essential ingredient of almost all traditional medicine systems of peninsular India, sometimes with amazingly good results. Unani, Ayurveda
and other systems use it to cure ailments such as piles, to allay heat of the body and are useful in leucoderma and blood disorders, and this has been proven by experts of western medicine also .It can also be used for skin care solution to cure heat rash. Those with a strong stomach can chew on fresh curry leaves and count on it to relieve diarrhoea.
The wood of the Curry plant is greyish white, even, hard, close grained and durable. It is also used as timber for manufacturing different types of products. Curry leaves are widely used in the country.