AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE

CURRY LEAF PLANT
A SPICY PLANT
Dr.S.ESWARA REDDY

2011

Murraya koenigii (L.) Sprengel-The spicy leaf of every day use
Dr.S.ESWARA REDDY. The small deciduous curryleaf plant is native to India. From wild jungles to farmlands and almost everywhere in the Indian subcontinent excluding the higher levels of the Himalayas curry leaves grow in abundance. In the East, its range extends into Burma, Malaysia, South Africa and Reunion islands. In India in the regions from the Ravi to Sikkim and Assam, besides Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, curry leaves can be seen in abundance. 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 of influence, they are rarely found. Curry powder is a British invention to imitate the flavor of Indian cooking with minimal effort. In Indian cuisine curry leaves are used fresh for some recipes or fried in butter or oil for a short while. Since South Indian cuisine is dominantly vegetarian, curry leaves seldom appear in non-vegetarian food. The leaves have soft texture but are usually removed before serving but if eaten they are harmless. The curry leaves can be kept in the refrigerator for some time and then used and can also be used just after being plucked from the branch. The trees are also now maintained in homestead gardens, as in Kerala or in leaf farms as in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Orissa. The western world is fast taking enthusiastically to Indian curry leaf for relishing tangy foodstuffs that are not too hot. The Curry Tree or Curry-leaf Tree (Murraya koenigii; syn. Bergera koenigii, Chalcas koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India. Citrus plants also belong to same family . It is a small tree, growing 4-6 m tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm diameter. The leaves are pinnate, with 11-21 leaflets, each leaflet 2-4 cm long and 1-2 cm broad. The flowers are small white, and fragrant. The small black, shiny berries are edible, but their seeds are poisonous. The species name commemorates the botanist Johann Gerhard Koenig.

Curry leaf tree is a small deciduous tree. Most Indian cuisine cannot do without the subtle flavoring of this highly aromatic leafy spice. Curry leaf grows profusely throughout mainland. It is commonly found in forests as a gregarious undergrowth along the foot of the Himalayas, from the Ravi to Sikkim and Assam, besides Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. The trees are also now maintained in homestead gardens, as in Kerala, or on leaf farms as in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Orissa. The western world is fast taking enthusiastically to Indian curry leaf, especially those who prefer their food to be tangy without being too hot. Indigenous to India, it shows exuberant growth and fine health along the eastern Himalayas and in south-west India. India exports several varieties in different forms. However, its volatile oil attracts more international interest because of its high medicinal value Its leaves are highly aromatic and are used as a(n) herb. Their form is small and narrow and somewhat resemble the leaves of the Neem tree; therefore they are also referred to as Kari Bevu, translated to Black Neem, in the Kannada language and Karivepaku in Telugu again translating to the same meaning. In Tamil and Malayalam it is known as Karuveppilai, ilai meaning leaves. Other names include Kari Patta (Hindi) and Karapincha (Sinhalese). They are commonly used as seasoning in Indian and Sri Lankan cooking, much like bay leaves and especially in curries with fish or coconut milk. In their fresh form they have a short shelf life and may be stored in a freezer for up to a week; they are also available dried, although the aroma is clearly inferior. Curry leaves are extensively used in South India and Sri Lanka. They are particularly used in South India cooking to provide a flavouring for curries, vegetable, fish and meat dishes, soups (rasams), pickles, butter milk preparations, chutneys, scrambled eggs and curry powder blends. 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. Another common technique is short frying in butter or oil. Since South Indian cuisine is dominantly vegetarian, curry leaves seldom appear in non-vegetarian food; the main applications are thin lentil or vegetable curries and stuffings for samosas. Because of their soft texture, they are not always removed before serving. In India the leaves are sold in markets still attached to the stem. In Europe they are generally sold as dried leaves but some are imported fresh. The curry leaf tree is native to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Andaman Islands. Later spread by Indian migrants, they now grow in other areas of the world where Indian immigrants settled. Widely cultivated, the leaves are particularly associated with South Indian cuisines.

Curry leaf trees are naturalised in forests and waste land throughout the Indian subcontinent except in the higher parts of the Himalayas. From the Ravi river in Pakistan its distribution extends eastwards towards Assam in India and Chittagong in Bangladesh, and southwards to Tamil Nadu in India. The plants were spread to Malaysia, South Africa and Reunion Island with South Asian immigrants. The use of curry leaves as a flavoring for vegetables is described in early Tamil literature dating back to the 1st to 4th centuries AD. Its use is also mentioned a few centuries later in Kannada literature. Curry leaves are still closely associated with South India where the word 'curry' originates from the Tamil 'kari' for spiced sauces. An alternative name for curry leaf throughout India is kari-pattha. Today curry leaves are cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands and in Africa as a food flavouring Author can be contacted at : dr_esreddy@yahoo.co.in

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful