Indian Institute of Spices Research
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CURRY LEAVES
Murraya koenigii Spreng.
Family : Rutaceae
Other names: Nim leaf
Description
The fresh leaves of Murraya koenigii are generally used. Its sensoric quality is fresh and pleasant, remotely reminiscent of tangerines. The origin of this plant is in Southern India and Sri Lanka.
Botany
The curry leaf plant is a tropical tree of the citrus family. The long slender leaflets are dark green on top and paler underside. The leaves have a strong, warm curry aroma when bruised or rubbed.
Aroma and flavour
Fresh leaves may contain up to 2.6% essential oil. The following aroma components have been identified (in parentheses, the content in mg/kg fresh leaves): beta-caryophyllene (2.6 ppm), beta-gurjunene (1.9), beta-elemene (0.6), beta-phellandrene (0.5), beta-thujene (0.4), alpha-selinene (0.3), beta-bisabolene (0.3), furthermore limonene, beta-trans-ocimene and beta-cadinene (0.2 ppm).
Culinary use
Curry leaves are extensively used in Southern India and Sri Lanka (and are absolutely necessary for the authentic flavour), but are also of some importance in Northern India. They have been introduced to Malaysia by the many South Indian (mostly Tamil) immigrants during the British colonial era. Outside the Indian sphere of influence, they are rarely found. In Sri Lanka, the delicious chicken and beef curries are flavoured with curry leaves; the leaves are furthermore used for kottu roti, vegetables and sliced bread which are quickly fried together.