Origin: The curry leaf tree natively belongs to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Andaman Islands. Later, Curry tree spread to different parts of the world and now it grows in other areas of the world as well where Indian immigrants are settled. Curry trees are widely cultivated and are an important ingredient of South Indian cuisine.
Curry leaf trees grow naturally in forests or wasteland throughout the Indian subcontinent except in the higher parts like hills or the Himalayas. Curry trees can be found growing from the Ravi river in Pakistan and extend eastwards towards Assam in India. It is also found in Chittagong in Bangladesh, and southwards to Tamil Nadu in India. The plants were spread to Malaysia, South Africa and other Islands with South Asian immigrants.
As per Tamil Literature in India, the curry leaves have been in use since 1st to 4th centuries AD for flavoring vegetables and curries. The use of curry leaves has also been mentioned in different Indian Literature. The leaves are still closely associated with South India where the word 'curry' originates from the Tamil 'Kari' for spiced sauces. The alternative name for curry leaf in India is Kari-patta. Today curry leaves are cultivated throughout India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands and in Africa as a food flavoring spice.
Scientifically: Curry leaf is a leafy herb, which is used in Indian cuisine for its distinct flavor. Curry leaves grow on the curry trees, botanically known as Murraya koenigii. This natively belongs to southern Asia. Curry leaves have a great aroma and add a distinct flavor to the food. It belongs to the Rutaceae family.
The height of the plant is between from 6 to 15 feet long. The useful parts of this plant are usually its leaves, roots, and bark. The leaves can be dried or fried, depending on the way it should be used. The fresh form is the most fragrant and popular.
Usage: Curry leaves are used for cooking and herbal medicines, both. Curry leaves are often available in the markets. Dried curry leaves are also available but have a much less flavor.
The leaves, root, and stem of the plant are full of vitamins and minerals. The curry leaves essential oil is believed to be very useful. The curry leaves are used to prevent nausea and to cure stomach upsets. It is also used to treat skin irritations and poisonous bites. Curry leaf is used in folk medicine in China and other Asian countries.
Curry leaves are rich in fiber, calcium, phosphorous, irons and vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E. curry leaves help fight all kinds of infections, including skin infection.
Curry leaves are also very useful in reducing hair fall and premature graying of the hair.
Below are some DIYs with curry leaves:
- Take a few curry leaves and make a thick paste with some water. Apply this paste on the face/any part of the body for 10 minutes and rinse later. This helps in soothing the skin irritations.
- Take some curry leaves and boil them with 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil. Once slightly warm, massage this oil on the scalp. Keep it on for 60 minutes and the shampoo. This oil helps in preventing premature graying of the hair.
- Blend some curry leaves with fenugreek seeds and yogurt. Apply this mixture on the scalp and hair. Keep it on for 30 minutes and then shampoo. This helps in strengthening the hair.
- Boil some curry leaves with hibiscus flowers, gooseberry, and basil leaves in some coconut oil and cool. Apply this oil to your scalp for about half an hour, and then shampoo. This promotes hair growth.
- Boil some curry leaves in water. Once the water is reduced to half, let it chill. Use this water as a face mist. This helps in rejuvenating the skin.