When we think of Indian food, we immediately imagine dishes full of numerous spices and their accentuated, different, and even exotic flavors.
Indian masalas - which are mixtures of various herbs - have become an ingredient increasingly present in cuisines around the world. And the popular Curry powder is also a blend of spices worldwide associated with India. But it doesn't come from India.
In fact, Curry was the name given by the English to any recipe that included one or another Indian spice in its composition. Over time they started selling a spice mix with the name Curry. However, in India, the name for spices made from spice mixes is Masala.
What's more, a super popular ingredient in Indian recipes is Curry Leaves that have nothing to do with powdered curry or even masala.
What is Curry Leaf?
Curry Leaf (tree with the scientific name Murraya koenigii) has been used for millennia in South India. Curry leaf has a number of therapeutic benefits. The best known are its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial properties.
The leaves can be cooked or braised, giving a very fragrant, slightly citrusy, and special flavor to the dishes and stimulating the digestive system to function properly. The spice also keeps hair and skin healthy.
Meetha Neem, the Sweet Neem from India
A curiosity is that in Hindi, the Curry Leaf is called Meetha Neem, which means Neem Doce. The fact is due to the similarity of the Curry and Neem leaves' shapes, as seen in the image above.
Other popular names are: kari pattha, kare paku, kari phulia, kariveppu, kartaphulli, narasingha, barsanga, gorenimb, kathnim, karuveppilai, gandhela, gandla, gani, bhursanga.
Note that Kari's words give rise to the name Curry or Curry and mean "seasoning" in Tamil and other Indian languages.
Ayurvedic Curry Leaf
In Sanskrit, the leaf is called Mahanimb, and in Ayurveda Literature - Indian Medicine for health and longevity - the Curry Leaf is called by the name Kaidarya or Nimba, being shallow (taste) bitter and astringent and Virya (potency) cold.
It is used in treatments for skin problems, abscesses, detoxification, the appearance of white hair, insect and scorpion bites, liver problems, ulcers, excess gastric juice, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and even cancer.
Tips on How to Use Curry Leaves
● Curry leaves are very aromatic and give off fragrance even when removing some leaves from the tree
● The taste is similar to a lemon leaf, pitanga, but very smooth and complex
● When preparing the dishes, it is advisable to sauté the leaves a little in vegetable oil (or ghee) to loosen the aroma and its phytotherapeutic properties.
● Two or three leaves are enough to flavor rice or beans, but in general Indian recipes add a handful of leaves
● You can find Curry Leaf seedlings or seeds on the internet. The tree requires little maintenance and grows well in tropical and subtropical climates
● The dry leaf loses its aroma, so the tip is to use fresh leaves. These are also sold in some online stores or emporiums
● You can freeze them for later use. Last up to 1 month in the freezer
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