Curry leaves (Murraya koenigi) is the most popular herb of the Indian kitchen. It is an integral part of the south Indian cuisines. It is popularly known as curry patta or kadhi patta. The plant is a shrub. It is commonly found growing in the backyards and kitchen gardens. Curry leaves grow wildly in the foothills of the
Himalayas. The leaves are the edible part. They are dark green and shiny and resemble neem leaves. It is also known as meetha neem.
Curry leaves are an important ingredient of the Indian food specially curries vegetables and chutneys. Curry leaves are aromatic and slightly bitter in taste and are used as seasoning. Besides adding aroma and flavour to the food, the leaves have great medicinal value as well. Curry leaves aid digestion and improve the functioning of the stomach. A very popular Indian kitchen remedy is buttermilk with a paste of curry leaves, salt and powder of roasted cumin seeds. This is had after meals. It helps in digestion, loss of appetite and in removing tastelessness of mouth after fever. The juice of curry leaves is effective in heartburn. A paste of curry leaves with honey is useful for treating excessive vomiting in pregnant women. This concoction is also useful in dysentery, diarrhea and nausea. According to a research, a paste of 8 to 10 curry leaves taken in the morning on an empty stomach for three months may help in controlling non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Curry leaves contain agents that slow down the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream. Curry leaves also have weight reducing properties and may control diabetes due to obesity. Curry leaves contain volatile essential oil, vitamins and minerals and make a great herbal mouthwash. Chew 4 to 5 curry leaves with a little water. Keep it in the mouth for sometime and rinse the mouth. It is excellent for good oral health. Curry leaves are good for hair. Add a handful of curry leaves to about 500ml of coconut oil. Heat the oil till the leaves turn black. According to ayurveda, this is a herbal tonic for hair and regular application of this oil to the scalp simulates the growth of hair and stops pre-mature graying of hair. In our villages, curry leaves have been traditionally used to treat minor burns, bruises and insect bites by applying externally as a poultice.
Curry leaf plant can be easily grown at home. It can be grown in the garden as well as in the pots. It grows well in the warm temperature. It can be easily propagated by seeds, root cutting or from the small suckers in the base of the plant. Curry leaves should be used fresh. Leaves can also be shade dried and stored for use.