Curry leaves are aromatic herbs that have a special place in South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine. In fact, now it's also an important ingredient in Malaysian and Thai cooking. Curry leaves are used as a unique flavouring agent [due to presence of volatile oils] making it impossible to make rasam and sambar without them. Curry leaves can also be used in many other preparations like:
- Mutton, prawn and beef curry
- Vegetable curries and lentil preparations[for tempering]
- Rice dishes
- Chutneys [mixture of curry and coriander leaves with coconut and mixture of fresh curry leaves with tamarind, salt and red chillies]
- Egg preparations
- Upma, poha, rawa idli, wada and uttapa
- Raita and dahi wada
- Stuffing in samosa and batata wada
- Salads, pickle and soups.
Benefits of curry leaves are not just limited to culinary uses; it is also used as a natural remedy for many health conditions and disorders.
Curry leaves help cure conditions
Curry leaves have a natural mild laxative effect. To relieve constipation, soak curry leaves in warm water for two hours and drink the water with a teaspoon of honey early in the morning. It will help to cleanse the system and improve your appetite. Alternatively, fresh curry leaves juice can also be mixed with buttermilk. This mixture can be consumed three times in a day for effective results.
To control morning sickness, especially during pregnancy, you can prepare a decoction with one tsp curry leaves juice, one tbsp lime juice and one tsp honey. Preferably consume it early in the morning. Another simple option is to add few curry leaves while brewing tea.
For immediate results, chew a few well-cleaned curry leaves or take a fresh juice of curry leaves [15-20 leaves] with honey.
A decoction of powdered bark of curry leaves tree made in cold water or few leaves added in buttermilk can be taken daily.
Cuury leaves help in improving digestion
Curry leaves in general improve the quality of digestive juices. In fact, the very smell and taste of fresh curry leaves can stimulate salivary secretions which in turn initiate the secretion of digestive juices. To control indigestion and flatulence, add a spoonful of dried and ground mixture of curry leaves, jeera, black salt and dried ginger in warm water. You can also try a glass of fresh juice made from curry, coriander and mint leaves.
Provides relief from insect bites
The fruit from the curry leaves tree are purplish berries. The juice from these berries mixed with lime juice, forms an acidic and effective solution for external relief from insect bites and stings.
Eases kidney pain
The root of the plant also seems to have beneficial effects. The juice extracted from the root is believed to reduce pain associated with kidneys. Individuals with a history of kidney stones should avoid this due to high concentration of oxalates.
If you are troubled with heat boils, try applying curry leaves boiled in milk for treating heat rashes and bruises. It also works well in combination with turmeric powder ground together to make a paste. This paste can be used to fight acne leaving you with a clean glowing complexion.
Lowers premature greying of hair
Roast curry leaves in coconut oil. Apply this mixture close to hair roots. It helps to darken the hair, prevents premature greying, and at the same time strengthens the roots. Hair fall is one of the common problems faced by all age-groups today. Chewing raw curry leaves daily can actually help in completely stopping it. A mixture of curry leaves, fenugreek [methi] seeds and whole moong ground together can also be used as a hair wash.
Prevents early development of cataract
Fresh curry leaf juice brightens eyes and prevents early development of cataract.
Alleviates burn wounds
Medicinal herbal remedies of curry leaves paste also include effectively treating burn wounds and skin eruptions. It can also be used as a covering for healing wounds.
In South India, fresh curry leaves are used to control blood sugar in non-insulin dependent diabetics. It is believed that eating 10 fresh raw curry leaves daily, early in the morning can help manage diabetes and can show good results in about three months. Another remedy includes consuming ground curry leaves mixed with curd. It is also believed to reduce cholesterol levels and aid in weight loss.
Recent studies have also indicated that there might be a link between curry leaves and their beneficial effects against lung cancer cells.
A word of advice
I definitely recommend a small potted curry leaf plant in every house. It's easy to maintain - all it requires is regular watering. Besides a bunch of medicinal benefits, the curry leaf plant also has an added advantage of repelling insects and ensuring a fresh aroma in the house.
Nutritionally curry leaves are a fair source of vitamin A and calcium. The composition of curry leaves [100g]:
- Use only tender curry leaves as far as possible. Stale leaves have a pungent aroma.
- Choose shiny leaves with no signs of wilting and browning.
- Store leaves in a proper manner. Don't separate the leaves from the stalk. Keep them in the refrigerator in air-tight bags so that they can last long. Curry leaves can be stored up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
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