and are used as a herb or spice
The leaves of curry leaf tree is a spice.
The aromatic curry tree(Chalcas koenigii), a member of the Rutaceae
family is five meter in height, 15-40 cm in diameter. It is cultivated
mainly in homesteads but to a certain extent on a plantation scale.
A fast-growing shrub with deep roots and
scented leaves are an important ingredient in curry in South India
and Sri Lanka. Fresh curry leaves are oval in shape and best used
at about 1 inch in length. They have a pungent and bitter smell
much like the leaves of a citrus tree.
Origin and Distribution
The small deciduous curry is native to India. Curry leaves are extensively
used in Southern India and Sri Lanka (and are absolutely necessary
for the authentic flavor), but are also of some importance in Northern
India. Together with South Indian immigrants, curry leaves reached
outside the Indian sphere. In the East, its range extends into Burma,
Malaysia, South Africa and Reunion islands.
Although the curry leaf plant is found in the wild, it is also widely
cultivated for its aromatic leaves and as an ornamental. The plant
is grown in almost every home garden in south India. All it needs
is some watering during a dry spell and some sunshine during cold
months. It can withstand a small amount of frost and needs moderate
light and warmth to grow. A small pot with these aromatic leaves
can be kept in a partially indoors area , to stave off insects etc
too, as well as ensure a fresh aroma to the area.
Planting in southern India is mostly done
just before the arrival of the monsoon in May. It is propagated
by seeds, which germinate freely under partial shade. The leaves
can be harvested about 15 months after planting, and a fully grown
tree can yield about 100 kg leaves each year.
Curry leaves should not be removed from the branches until
needed. They can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator,
for up to two weeks. They may also be frozen.
Curry leaves are highly aromatic and are used as a herb
or spice. They are mainly used fresh, but are also used dried or
powdered. For some recipes, the leaves are oven-dried or toasted
immediately before use.They are extensively used in Southern India
as a natural flavouring agent in various dishes, mainly vegetarian,
like sambar, khaman dhokla, rice preparation, etc. It is also used
in Srilanka and many other parts of the world. In Sri Lanka, the
delicious chicken and beef curries are flavoured with curry leaves.
The western world is fast taking enthusiastically to Indian curry
leaf for relishing tangy foodstuffs that are not too hot. Curry
Leaves are typically fried until brown, then cooked with the dish.
Because of their soft texture, they are never removed before serving,
but can be eaten without any hazard.
Curry leaf is mainly a culinary plant and is cultivated as an ornamental
throughout South Asia. It also has a few lesser-known uses.
Use Of Wood
The wood of the curry leaf tree is greyish-white, hard,
close-grained and durable. It has been used to make agricultural
Curry leaves are steam distilled to produce an oil which
is used for the production of soap. Its oils are invaluable as repellants
and to cure skin disorders.
It can also be ground into a paste with some turmeric and
applied on acne infected skin for a few days. The result is a glowing,
clear skin. Curry leaves boiled with coconut oil can be an effective
hair colorant which causes minimum damage and maximum benefit to
graying or thinning hair. South Indian women have, for centuries,
mixed the leaves with fenugreek, and applied as a paste to keep
hair long, back and gleaming.
Apart from these, the leaves, bark and root of the plant
are used for various medicinal applications.It is an essential ingredient
of almost all traditional medicine systems of India. Ayurveda and
other systems use it to cure ailments such as piles, comstipation,
nausea and diarrhea.It has also been proven by experts of western
medicine that they are useful in leucoderma and blood disorders.
It is also used in treating skin irritations and poisonous bites.