A popular Indian saying equates a resourceful person being used and discarded mercilessly as being 'treated like a curry leaf'. For generations, we have believed that curry leaves were simply meant for garnishing and flavouring a dish and need to be pushed to the side at the final stage of eating. But now, studies are throwing up evidence of astounding health benefits attached to this lovely green.
Curry leaves, commonly known as kadhi pata, are used in cooking across India but this green holds a special place in the hearts and kitchens of south India. It is rare to find a south Indian household that does not grow this plant in abundance. South Indians will vouch for the fact that no curry is complete without a generous sprinkling of these leaves.
Even north Indian dishes like rajma masala come out of a south Indian kitchen with the green garnish! But beyond curries, here are some other ways that curry leaves add flavour to your everyday life:
A lot of health benefits credited to curry leaves come from antioxidants called carbazol alkaloids found in abundance in these leaves. One such property of these is keeping the heart in top shape. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine published a study on mice that showed regular consumption of curry leaves (scientific name: Murraya koenigii) can keep blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels in check.
How to use: If you can endure the bitterness, the best way to get the most out of curry leaves is by grinding a handful of them and consuming the semi-solid paste. Another option is to grind a couple of leaves and sneak them into side dishes like coconut chutney and buttermilk.
Heal Wounds Faster
Curry leaves are popular in Asian folk medicine as an emollient. The leaves have been shown to work on wounds like cuts, burns and external inflammations like magic. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of the leaves come in handy whenever there is a medical emergency.
How to use: Grind the leaves into a paste and apply it directly to the wound.
Flush the Toxins Out
Having curry leaves daily is an effective way to detox your body. The abundant antioxidants in it prevent cell damage and promote cell health and regeneration. A study on the effect of regular consumption of curry leaves on menopausal women with hyperlipidemia showed that this magic leaf can work wonders on liver and kidney health as well, the two organs instrumental in ridding the body of toxins.
How to use: Make it a habit to chew on a few curry leaves every morning. If that sounds unappealing, garnish your buttermilk, chutneys and curries with the leaves and eat them too.
For Younger Skin
Curry leaves can help you stay younger for longer. Yes, it’s the antioxidants at work again. Regular consumption of antioxidants and betacarotene is the way to younger-looking skin that glows and keeps the wrinkles at bay. The antioxidant properties of the leaves also make them a cancer prevention aid.
How to use: For daily consumption, powdered dried curry leaves will come in handy. Mix a teaspoon of powder with water and drink up!
Curry leaves have been an ingredient in hair oils in south Indian homes for generations. Wonder why? Curry leaves are anti-fungal which means applying it on your scalp will arrest infections like dandruff in the beginning stage itself. This applies to those pesky lice as well. It is also believed to slow down greying, another great reason to douse your hair in curry leaves-infused oil week after week!
How to use: Warm some coconut oil, snip a few leaves into it and let it rest a while before applying. Studies have proven that curry leaves release their nutrition on heating.
Gut health is another notable benefit of these leaves. Curry leaves have long been used as a mild laxative. It is also excellent to relieve symptoms of diarrhoea.
How to use: You can either munch on a few leaves on an empty stomach or blend the paste of the leaves with buttermilk.
Ayurvedic diet prescribes curry leaves as an integral part of post-partum diet. Having curry leaves daily helps the new mother in producing breast milk. The leaves are also rich in nutrients like B Vitamins, calcium and iron, all of which are essential for the healing of a new mom and the health of her baby.
How to use: Karuveppilai (curry leaves) podi (powder) is made and stored in most south Indian homes to be had with steamed rice and ghee daily. This can be made by dry roasting equal measures (2 tbsp) of toor, urad and channa dal. Then, powder the dal with a dry roast mixture of equal measures (2 tsp) of whole black pepper and cumin seeds and dried red chillies (depending on your taste) and a cup of washed, pat-dried and dry roasted curry leaves.
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