When you enter a South Indian home or restaurant, the lovely aroma that assails you is usually the lemony smell of fried curry leaves.
The curry leaf is not only popular but an essential part of most dishes cooked in South India, and now, in many parts of Asia as well.
These leaves are deep green in color and belong to the citrus family. They grow easily in a tropical climate.
The leaves when fried have a unique aroma. Fresh green leaves are best; when unavailable the dried variety is used. The leaves are dried in the shade and stored in airtight containers when they dry to retain their flavor. Sometimes they are powdered and used in chutneys.
When a person suffers from digestive problems, the leaves are pounded together with cumin seeds and added to buttermilk. It works wonders. The buttermilk after a heavy meal helps digestion. When you feel sick because of a heavy meal the previous night, the buttermilk helps on an empty stomach.
For severe nausea during pregnancy, one teaspoon of juice extract, mixed with one teaspoon of honey, or half a teaspoon of limejuice can work miracles. This can be used two to three times a day – depending on the severity of the nausea.
A paste of these leaves can be applied as a poultice on burns and bruises.
The leaves are also useful as a hair tonic. Add twenty leaves to a cup of coconut oil and heat the oil till the leaves turn black. Apply this oil to the scalp 2-3 times a week. This helps hair grow and also stops graying.
When we come across a curry leaf floating in a South Indian dish, we nudge it aside - the next time it would be better if we chewed the leaf as it is said to control the cholesterol level in the body. Do you feel strongly about curry leaves? Let us know.