Curry Leaves can be identified by their pear-shaped deep shiny
green colour and slightly serrated edges. Very much like small bay
leaves. The underside of the leaf is however a little paler in colour.
The small curry tree from which the leaves are derived, grows to a height of around six metres and is a type of hardwood indigenous to India and Sri Lanka but later introduced to Thailand. They now grow extensively in the rich tropical regions of South East Asia.
The fresh leaves have a rather intriguing warm charismatic fragrance with a hint of green pepper and tangerine and when bruised the full aromatic extract comes into play.
When added to Thai curry dishes they infuse a distinctive taste that can only be described as genuinely delicious. Dried curry leaves, on the other hand, tend to lose their fragrance rapidly.
There is a possibility you may have to purchase the fresh and dry variety of curry leaf from an oriental bazaar or store as you may not find any in a western shop or supermarket.
Fresh leaves will keep for several days in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator providing you wrap them up carefully. This will prevent their distinctive flavour being transferred to other items.
Alternatively, open-freeze the leaves and then transfer them to a plastic container. Because dried curry leaves do not have as good a taste, you should rather look for vacuum-packed ones as they have a much better colour - and their flavour will also be better.
1) The fresh tender leaves are great as an herbal tonic for strengthening various functions of the stomach and sometimes acts as a mild laxative.
2) The fine paste extracted from the dried leaves and mixed with buttermilk is beneficial in the relief of stomach upsets when taken before a meal.
3) A teaspoon of the juice extracted from fresh tender leaves mixed with a teaspoon of honey and used as a tea has medicinal properties effective in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery and piles.
4) A teaspoon of the juice extracted from fresh tender leaves mixed with a teaspoon of lime juice and used as tea has medicinal properties effective in treating morning sickness, nausea and vomiting due to indigestion and the excessive use of fats.
5) Juice extracted from the root of the curry plant has medicinal properties effective in relieving pain associated with the kidneys.
6) Fresh tender leaves can be effective when applied as a poultice to help in the treatment of burns, bruises and various other skin irritations.
7) The suffusion of juice extracted from fresh tender leaves over the eyes helps in a similar manner as commercial eye drops to aid in a fresh brighter appearance. It is also believed to help assist in the prevention of early cataract development.
8) The berries of the curry plant (Helichrysum Italicum) produce a juice that together with a similar amount of lime juice is an effective external treatment for all kinds of insect bites.
9) Properties extracted from fresh tender leaves help nourish hair roots, thus beneficial in preventing the premature greying of hair.
Kaffir Lime and Leaves is a sub-species of the citrus family, has a strong fragrance and flavour and is highly prized in Thai cuisine.
Lemongrass is a wonderfully aromatic herb with a distinct lemony flavour but more than that, it also provides a whole host of herbal and therapeutic benefits.
Cilantro is an edible herb known as Pak Chee in Thailand, but in other countries, it's known as coriander. It is also sometimes known as Chinese Parsley.
Thai Basil is also known as Oriental Basil or Asian Basil in Thailand and is a close cousin of the sweet basil variation that's frequently used in Thai cuisine.
Thai Long Pepper is a tangy spice known as Dee Plee to the local Hmong Hill Tribe people of northern Thailand. It's also referred to as Piper Chaba.
Chilli Peppers needs no real introduction. They are good for your heart, they improve blood circulation and best of all, they also help to lift your spirits.
Galangal is popularly known as Krachai in Thailand and is considered to be more of a spice than a herb. It has a strong and sharp peppery flavour.
Tamarind is available in a variety of forms. It's available as fresh, compressed blocks and dried slices, all of which have been around for quite some time.
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