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Must Have Kerala Spice Leaves for Your Kitchen Garden

Updated on July 23, 2013

Spice Leaves Of Kerala

A complete satisfaction of having a good dish is not achieved, unless and until it has a mouth watering smell. However less nutritious a food may be, if it has a wonderful smell, it is finished within no time. Most of the spices in Kerala are capable enough to create a hunger and wanting for food with their wonderful smell. The taste and smell that they provide to food helps in producing more saliva.

The digestive process is made easy through the amylase enzyme, amylase neuraminic malam, hexosamines, tayalin etc present in the saliva. Some of such spices that help in increasing the taste and smell of food items are mentioned below.

Coriander Plants for Kitchen Garden
Coriander Plants for Kitchen Garden

African coriander/ Mexican coriander

Because of its similarity with coriander, African or Mexican coriander is also known by the name long coriander.

  1. It provides the same but a much more intense smell and taste of coriander.
  2. Its leaves have a length of 30 cm and breadth of 4 cm.
  3. It is also cultivated using seeds and grows well in wet and cold places.
  4. Water boiled using African coriander leaves is a good medicine for influenza, dysentery, fever, vomiting, sugar etc.
  5. The tincture prepared with its roots is best for getting rid of stomach pain.

Coriander Leafs

It’s believed that coriander is the first spice used by man. Coriander was famous in India 7000 years ago. Hippocrates has characterized coriander as a medicine. The Romans used to make use of coriander to make bread more delicious and to preserve meat. The leaf, stem and seed of coriander have an attractive smell. 0.1 to 0.95 of fragrance oil is present in the leaves and stems of coriander. It’s also a wonderful source of Vitamin C and A.

Coriander is cultivated as a sub crop in states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. It is done using its seeds. Coriander which is a yearly plant grows up to a height of 30-50 cm. If coriander is planted for household use it can be grown in pots, wooden boxes or polythene covers. The stems should be cut off or uprooted early before it starts flowering when it reaches a height of 10-12 cm. It can be used as such in food stuffs or drinks. The smell of the leaves of coriander has no similarity with the smell of coriander.

Hence coriander leaves cannot be replaced with coriander or coriander replaced with its leaves. It is used in many dishes to make them delicious. It’s also a good medicine. It helps digestion and prevents gas. It’s believed that the immunity power of a person increases if one spoon of coriander leaf juice mixed with equal quantity of honey is had every morning. The juice of coriander leaves is also a good remedy for asthma, allergy etc. The water boiled by putting coriander leaves in it is best to control cholesterol and to produce a lot of urine there by helping in the easy functioning of kidneys.

Table of Commonly used Names of Indian Spices

Indian Common Name
English Name
Malliyilla / KothaMalli
It’s a good source of iron, carotene, riboflavin and calcium.
Holy Basil
cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes
Karuva Ella
Bay leaf
Cannot retain flavor when dried. Only use fresh.
Pudina / Mentha
Mint is widely used in Indian cuisine.
Used as dried or fresh leaves
Pandan leaves
Used for chicken curry
Pudina spice leaf in garden
Pudina spice leaf in garden

How to Grow Coriander in Garden?

The coriander required for household uses can be prepared in the house itself. It can be done using its seeds.

  1. Raw coriander can be soaked in water and then planted.
  2. The seeds should be crushed and separated in to two pieces with hands before planting them.
  3. These seeds can be planted in a mixture of soil, sand and cow dung powder in a pot.
  4. The seeds will germinate within 10-12 days.
  5. The seeds should be watered well daily before they germinate.
  6. The first harvesting can be done within 20-25 days. I
  7. n the same manner harvesting can be done four or five times.
  8. The winter season is best for coriander cultivation. It won’t grow well in rainy or summer seasons.

Pudina (Mint) in Kitchen Gardens

Pudina plant which is a creeper doesn’t grow from seeds. The pieces cut along with the roots of the stolen or runner shoot are planted at a distance of 45-60 cm in trenches placed at a height and with a width of one meter. Cattle manure, compost, dried powdered leaves, vermin compost etc can be used as manure. The plant will grow well within a time period of two months. The leaves and stems can be cut and used as required.

Podina, which belongs to the thulsi family, is used in foods and curries to increase its taste and fragrance. Pudina chatni, pudina juice, pudina tea etc are all famous. It can be cultivated for household uses. The chemical substances such as craven, menthol,

Linalyl acetate, linalool etc present in its leaves and stems are the base of its fragrance.

Pudina is used in dishes as such or by chopping it. Pudina leaves are also used in soups, different varieties of sauces, tea, vinegar, fish, meat, salads etc. Pudina is a good medicine for all kinds of stomach related problems. If one spoon of pudina juice is had daily we can avoid any kind of stomach diseases. Pudina helps in the good functioning of kidneys, liver, urinary bladder etc. If pudina juice is applied on the face during night it can get rid of pimples and increase the softness of the skin.

How to Grow Mint - Pudina

Thulasi in Garden
Thulasi in Garden

Ramba (Pandan Leaves) in Kitchen Gardens

The main factor for the fragrance of Basmati rice, acetyl pyrolin, is present in the leaves of ramba. Since it can provide the same fragrance of biriyani made using Basmati rice, it is also called biriyani leaf plant. I

ts leaves are wide, thin and shiny. Its leaves have a length of 30 to 80 cm. A fully grown plant will contain 16 to 30 leaves. The seedlings that form below the plant can be taken off and cultivated.

The fragrance of the leaves increases when it is heated or cooked. Other than in biriyani, ramba leaves are also used in meat curries, cakes, pudding, ice cream, milk, other milk products etc to give it a special fragrance. Recent reports say that it is very effective in fighting flu virus, herpes virus etc

Thulsi ( Holi Basil)

The two famous types of thulsis in Kerala are Krishna thulsi and Rama thulsi. There are also other varieties of thulsis like the pepper mint thulsi, coliseum thulsi, basil etc. Thulsi is a plant that grows up to a height of 30 to 90 cm.

Different varieties of fragrant chemicals like camphor, citral, geranial, linalool, vinyl acetate, methyl chavicol, eugenol etc are present in the different varieties of thulsis.

Thulsi is being used in different curries and soups. It is used in tomato curries to make it tastier in Italy. It is also used in alcoholic drinks like Sharthayoos. Its leaves or the oil extracted from them is used in sweet dishes, puddings, bakery items, pickles, sausages etc.

Each part of the thulsi plant has some kind of medicinal value. It’s used to recover from fever, cough etc and also against the poison of scorpion, spider etc.

Studies show that the water boiled using thulsi leaves can provide us with perfect health and a tension free mind.

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Methi /Basil /Fenugreek

Methi leaves are produced by planting the seeds of fenugreek. India has the first position in the production of fenugreek. 80% of this cultivation in India is conducted in Rajasthan. All the medicinal value of fenugreek is present in its leaves also. The dried and powdered fenugreek leaves are available in the name of kasuri methi. Its leaves and stems have a light bitter taste. Hence it is used along with potato, salad etc. It is rich in potassium, calcium and iron. Fibre and Vitamin C which makes digestion easy is also present in them.

Kerala has gained wide acclaim across the globe for the exotic spices grown there. The Kerala spices are famous for their aromatic smell and flavour. The export quality spices of Kerala are used for many purposes like seasoning, garnishing, medicinal and cosmetic purposes as mentioned above.


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