|Curry Leaf Tree|
Its leaves are used in many dishes in India and neighbouring countries. Often used in curries, the leaves are generally called by the name 'curry leaves,' although they are also literally 'sweet neem leaves' in most Indian languages (as opposed to ordinary neem leaves which are very bitter and in the family Meliaceae, not Rutaceae).
It is a small tree, growing 4–6 m (13–20 feet) tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm (16 in) diameter. The aromatic leaves are pinnate, with 11-21 leaflets, each leaflet 2–4 cm (0.79–1.57 in) long and 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) broad. The plant produces small white flowers which can self-pollinate to produce small shiny-black berries containing a single, large viable seed. Though the berry pulp is edible -- with a sweet but medicinal flavor -- in general, neither the pulp nor seed are used for culinary purposes.
The species name commemorates the botanist Johann König.
The leaves are highly valued as seasoning in southern and west-coast Indian cooking, and Sri Lankan cooking ( කරපිංචා), especially in curries, usually fried along with the chopped onion in the first stage of the preparation. They are also used to make thoran, vada, rasam and kadhi. In their fresh form, they have a short shelf life and do not keep well in the refrigerator. They are also available dried, though the aroma is largely inferior.
Although most commonly used in curries, leaves from the curry tree can be used in many other dishes to add flavor. In Cambodia, Khmer toast the leaves in an open flame or roast it until crispy and then crush it into a soured soup dish called Maju Krueng.
Seeds must be ripe and fresh to plant; dried or shrivelled fruits are not viable. One can plant the whole fruit, but it is best to remove the pulp before planting in potting mix that is kept moist but not wet.
Stem cuttings can be also used for propagation.
Some of the primary alkaloids found in the Curry Tree leaves, stems, and seeds are as follows: Mahanimbine, girinimbine, koenimbine, isomahanine, mahanine, Indicolactone, 2-methoxy-3-methyl-carbazole.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Murraya koenigii.|
- Gernot Katzer's Herb Pages on curry leaves
- Plant Cultures: botany, history and uses of curry leaf plant