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Botanical Name: Murraya koenigii
Family: Sprengel Rutaceae
Hindi Name: Curry Patta
The small deciduous curry is native to India. From wild jungles to farmlands, and everywhere in the Indian subcontinent, excluding the higher levels of the Himalayas, curry leaves grow in abundance. It is widely grown in Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. It is cultivated in India for its aromatic leaves. In the East and South, its range extends into Myanmar and Malaysia, in South Africa and Reunion Islands.
The leaves grow on a handsome, aromatic, deciduous shrub, or a small tree which in the Himalayan region, grows up to a height of six metres, and 15-40 cm in diameter. Curry leaves are fresh and pleasant, remotely reminiscent of tangerines. The essential oil is light yellow in colour, and is aromatic.
Its composition is as follows:
The volatile oil got from the fresh leaves is foul smelling, which after treatment has a strong, spicy odour, and pungent clove like taste.
Curry powder is a British invention to imitate the flavour of Indian cooking with minimal effort. In Indian cuisine curry leaves are used fresh for some recipes or fried in butter or oil for a short while. They seldom appear in non-vegetarian food in India but in most vegetarian dishes they are used fresh. In Sri, Lanka, the delicious chicken and beef curries are flavoured with curry leaves.
The leaves, bark and root of the plant are used in indigenous medicine. They have the qualities of a herbal tonic, and are used in the treatment of digestive disorders, morning sickness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dysentery and piles. Eating ten fresh leaves every morning prevents diabetes that may set in due to hereditary factors or obesity. They can be used to treat burns, bruises and skin eruptions.
Juice extracted from the berries can be applied with lime juice on the area stung or bitten by poisonous insects. Consumption of plenty of curry leaves daily prevents premature graying of hair. Coconut oil boiled with curry leaves is an excellent hair tonic to stimulate hair growth.
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