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What are Curry Leaves? - Uses in Indian Cooking, Health Benefits, As a Home Remedy and Hair Tonic

Updated on April 19, 2014
Add flavor and aroma to your cooking with curry leaves
Add flavor and aroma to your cooking with curry leaves | Source

What is Kadi Patta?

Commonly referred as kadi patta in Hindi, curry leaves are usually used to give a distinct aroma and flavor to Indian dishes, especially South Indian food. The leaves are taken from the curry tree or Murraya koenigii, which is native to India and Sri Lanka. It is a small tree or shrub that grows to about 6m high and can easily be grown in most parts of India in a small pot.

Also known as meetha neem patta or sweet neem leaves, these should not be confused with bay leaves. Although they do look similar, their aroma and flavor are quite different from each other.

Since curry leaves lose their fragrance after drying, they are best used fresh. Instead of going for dried leaves, try growing your own plant in a small pot. Hot and dry conditions are the best way to grow this plant.

Uses in Indian Cooking

Curry leaves are usually used for flavoring curries, rasam, vegetable dishes, pickles, buttermilk, and chutneys. They are usually fried in clarified butter or vegetable oil along with chopped onion before adding the main ingredients. It can give a unique flavor and aroma to any dish.

It is especially great as a seasoning to the South Indian dish, rasam, a kind of soup made with tomatoes, tamarind juice and various Indian spices.

Curry leaves are an excellent home remedy for indigestion, nausea, preventing diabetes, and improving eyesight
Curry leaves are an excellent home remedy for indigestion, nausea, preventing diabetes, and improving eyesight | Source

Health Benefits of Curry Leaves and How it can be Used as a Home Remedy

Curry leaves are not usually removed from the dish after cooking. However, since it already has added its flavor and aroma to the cooked dish, most people just set it aside while eating.

It is purely your choice whether you want to eat the leaves or not. However, knowing about its health benefits, you may want to think about eating these as part of a regular South Indian dish or maybe in the form of delicious chutney.

The leaves are rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins A, B, C and E. Alkaloids present in kadi patta are believed to have antioxidant properties.

While more research is required to prove the medicinal properties of curry leaves, it has been commonly used in Ayurveda for the treatment of various disorders.

It is especially useful to aid digestion and is a good home remedy for indigestion, heartburn, and nausea. The juice of fresh leaves along with sugar and lime juice may help ease the symptoms of indigestion and heartburn as well as prevent nausea and vomiting. The dried powder can also be added to buttermilk and used for an upset stomach.

Besides these health benefits, it is also believed that curry leaves are good for eyesight and may help prevent the growth of cataracts. Regular intake of its juice is believed to help people with kidney problems. It is also believed that regular intake of about 8-10 leaves may prevent hereditary diabetes.

It may also be used as a poultice to treat burns, bruises, cuts, skin eruptions and insect bites. The oil of the leaves is also believed to be an effective insect repellant.

Curry Leaves for Hair Care

The most popular use of kadi patta is for hair growth and color. Its regular intake is believed to prevent premature greying of hair.

Some people may not like its taste, so eating it on a daily basis to get shiny and black hair may be something they can't even think about. So, what you can do is prepare a hair tonic. Boil the leaves in coconut oil for a few minutes. You will notice that your hair tonic takes on a blackish tint.

Apply this hair tonic on your hair everyday before going to sleep at night. Wash your hair the next morning with a mild shampoo and plain or lukewarm water. This hair tonic will stop premature greying of hair and it will also add a shine and luster to dull hair.

Make Curry Leaves a Regular Part of your Diet

Well, now that you know what are curry leaves and what are their health benefits make these a regular part of your diet as well as hair and skin care. Add flavor and aroma to your food. Consume it regularly to control diabetes and maintain good eyesight. Use it as a home remedy for digestive disorders and skin problems. Don't forget the curry leaf hair tonic! Use it to get healthy and shiny hair.

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