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Curry leaf

The sweet smelling leaf of an Asian tree.

Curry leaf is the sweet-smelling leaf of a small tree native to South West Asia. The curry leaf tree is also known as black neem and kari phulia. It is used whole or ground often together with coconut. Curry leaf is an ingredient in many spice blends and in Madras curry mixes and pastes. Curry leaves have a balmy, enticing scent and convey a delicately piquant flavor to the dishes in which they are used.

Curious facts about curry leaf

Curry leaves habitually enhance fish and seafood dishes on the Indian western coast, along with onions, ginger, green chili and coconut. Perhaps, they are best savored in the traditional vegetarian Indian cuisine.

How to identify curry leaf

They are the fresh or dried leaves of a small tropical tree, similar in shape to bay leaves, but smaller and thinner. Shiny olive green when they are fresh.

The curry leaf plant belongs to the citrus family. It is a small tree, growing 12-18 ft (4-6 m) tall. The brown-reddish branches bear small clusters of fragrant white flowers and white purple berries. The plant is native to southern India, and it grows wild or as a garden tree in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

How to use and store curry leaf

Curry leaf is sold fresh in Indian markets. Available fresh or dried elsewhere, usually only is specialist Indian stores. If buying dried, choose vacuum-packed. Dried curry leaves lack the bite fresh ones have and lose their aroma within a few weeks when exposed to air.

Fresh leaves have a pungent curry aroma and are preferable. Fresh curry leaves can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to a week, or can be frozen.

They are used, either whole or ground, to flavor curries, spicy meat or fish dishes, vegetables, chutneys, pickles and relishes; a central ingredient in the Madras curry blend and essential in many vegetarian dishes in southern India.

How to grow curry leaf

The curry leaf tree grows only in tropical or sub tropical regions. It is not cultivated for commercial purposes. It can be found as a common garden tree or growing wild in southern India and Malaysia.

Cooking with curry leaf

Let's pair curry leaf with okra, another Indian vegetable, in spicy okra dish for an example of recipes using curry leaf.

Try frying whole curry leaves in ghee, butter or oil. Remove them before cooking other food in the fragrant oil.

Shrimp cooked in the mixture of onions, ginger, coconut, and curry leaf mentioned before come out quite delicious.

murraya koenigii, syn. chalcas koenigii (rutaceae) - curry leaf, neem leaf - French feuille de cari - German curryblatt - Italian foglia di cari - Spanish hoja de cari - Indian kari phulia, neem.