Curry leaves have been used since ancient times in traditional Indian cuisine. Unique taste and often used in curries, the leaves are generally called by the name “curry leaves”, although they are also actually “sweet neem leaves” in most Indian languages. Curry leaf tree is also called karuveppilai, sweet neem, kadi patta, kadhi limbdo, curry vepillai, kari bevu, karivepaku or noroxingho pat among numerous other names, depending on region.
The curry leaf tree is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae (the rue family, which includes rue, citrus, and satinwood), and is native to India. The species’ generic name,Murraya koenigii, derives from Johann Andreas Murray (1740-1791), who studied botany under Carl Linnaeus and became a professor of medicine with an interest in herbalism at the University of Göttingen, Germany. It grows best in well-drained soils in areas with full sun or partial shade, preferably away from the wind. Growth is more robust when temperatures are at least 18°C (65°F).
The fresh leaves are value as seasoning in the cuisines of South and Southeast Asia. They are most widely use in southern and west-coast Indian cooking. Usually fried along with vegetable oil, mustard seeds and chopped onions in the first stage of the preparation. They are also use to make thoran, vada, rasam and kadhi.
In Cambodia, the leaves are roast and use as an ingredient in a soup, maju kreung. In Java, the leaves are often stew to flavor gulai. Though available dried, the aroma and flavor is greatly inferior. The oil can be extract and used to make scented soaps.
Research has shown that curry leaves contain many compounds, including linalool, alpha-terpinene, myrcene, mahanimbine, caryophyllene, murrayanol, and alpha-pinene. Many of these compounds function as antioxidants in your body. Antioxidants play an essential role in keeping your body healthy and free from disease.
A test tube study involving three curry extract samples from curry leaves grown in different locations in Malaysia. Found that they all exhibited powerful anticancer effects and inhibited the growth of an aggressive type of breast cancer. Another test tube study found that curry leaf extract altered the growth of two types of breast cancer cells, as well as decreased cell viability. The extract also induced breast cancer cell death. Additionally, curry leaf extract has been observe to be toxic to cervical cancer cells in test-tube research.
The leaves are also use as a herb in Ayurvedic and Siddha medicine in which they are believe to possess anti-disease properties. Siddha medicine is a traditional medicine originating in Tamil Nadu, India and practiced over centuries. The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy of the Government of India regulates training in Siddha medicine and other traditional practices grouped collectively as AYUSH.
Image Source: Google Images