Curry Leaves (Murraya koenigii)
Curry leaves are used extensively in south Indian cooking, much the same way coriander leaves are used in northern Indian cuisine.
Curry leaves have a spicy, lemon-like and faintly bitter flavour that can’t be replicated by any other ingredient.
The leaves have a warm curry-like, musky aroma, particularly when crushed.
Curry leaves are best fresh as dried curry leaves have virtually no flavour. One of the most popular uses for whole curry leaves is shallow-fried with ghee, mustard seeds and asafoetida or onion before stirring the mixture through dhal or soup. The leaves can also be minced or diced and added to curries, marinades, pickles, relishes and omelettes. Curry leaves are best teamed with fish, lamb, lentils, rice, seafood and vegetables and they marry with cardamom, chilli, coriander, cumin, garlic, mustard seed and turmeric.
Curry leaves are grown on deciduous, branching trees that grow to between 2 and 5 metres high. They grow best in tropical climates in well-drained soil. Despite being deciduous, the leaves are available for picking most of the year.
Curry trees are native to the foothills of the Himalayas, India, northern Thailand and Sri Lanka and more recently plantations have been established in Australia. In Sri Lanka and India, curry is an esteemed tree and is called ‘sweet neem leaves’ in most Indian languages.
The leaves, root and bark of the curry tree have been used throughout history to assist with vomiting, intestinal worms, haemorrhoids and flatulence.
Is curry powder made from curry leaves?
No, curry powder does not come from curry leaves. Curry powder is made from a combination of ginger, chilli, black pepper, cumin, coriander, garlic, fenugreek and turmeric.