Tag Archives: Curry Leaf Plant

My Tropical Asian Treasure Trove – Part 2

Apart from those hidden Asian treasures in the micro shady boondocks of my backyard, summer warmth has spurred the growth of aromatic foliage which I need, for home style cooking, dishes which I grew up with, taught by my mother and grandmother, food that makes a house smell like home.

Walking around in the morning, at times with coffee mug in hand, pinching or breaking a leaf or two, inhaling the aroma, makes me appreciate what a little bit of each plant can do to enhance our chemical sensing system of smell and taste.

The very easy-to-propagate Lemongrass, nothing to do with lemons, has a citrus flavor which can make a not-so-appetizing dish smell heavenly. In Asia, it is used in soups, spicy stews, sweet tea, curries, as a basting brush for barbecues, as an air freshener in cars, fragrance for soaps and hair oil, heck! it’s supposed to even attract Honey Bees (which is why Lemongrass essence is placed in swarm boxes).

Lemongrass does not like lemons

It looks like scrawny weeds but has very sharp-edged blades and hibernates to a brown clump in winter. It’s also supposed to repel mosquitoes but that aspect is one I can’t vouch for.

The Curry Leaf Plant (Murraya koenigii) to me is what makes a Curry taste and smell like real Curry!  It is a plant native to India and Sri Lanka … the land of Curries, of course! I grew up with this in my backyard ~ yes, déjà vu.

Curry Leaves do smell like Curry.

Can this be found in all Asia grocery stores? No, only Indian run stores, unfortunately, which is why I need to grow my own. I harvest and dry some when it produces its leaves abundantly, just in case there is a bout of winter frost, that’s when it gets bald.

But … there is so much more that can be concocted with this herb, not just curry,

Just a versatile herb.

and in case you are curious (and brave) enough, you might even like to try making Indian Shepherd’s Pie. 😀

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Curry Leaf Plant’s Embryo

The Curry Leaf Plant (Murraya Koenigii) once established will/can reproduce in different ways. On its own, with a tap root deep enough to maintain its subsistence, it produces secondary roots (like mini-rhizomes) to produce little “baby” plants which can eventually exist on their on. From a gardener’s standpoint that is a good time to unearth-&-pot to create individual independent plants.

But … Curry Leaf Plants do produce flowers too, which when pollinated become fruits, bearing seeds …

Fruits ~ 1 ripened & 1 still immature.

Fruits ~ 1 ripened & 1 still immature (with their pollinating assistant)

and when ripened can be buried to germinate and produce seedlings.

I usually hand-pick them when they are dark burgundy and begin softening a little, then very, very gently peel off the coating and bury the aromatic seeds with their pulp intact.

A seed with its hypocotyl ~ ready to start growing into a plant.

A matured Curry Leaf fruit and 1 which has been peeled. This seed, with its hypocotyl visible, is still vegetal but ready to start growing into a plant.

So today, a few Curry Leaf seeds will be given new and comfortable seed cell-pots with rich growing mix, to begin their new lives.
Yes, I’m helping it to get out of its Vegetal state!

Not All Pestos are created Equal

I was told that the word Pesto may be derived from Latin words, either pistus which means “crushed” or pastare which means mortar-pounded. My Italian girlfriend could not specifically tell me which held more weight.

Nevertheless, when I found that my Curry Leaf plants (Murraya Koenigii) simply grew amok (they must have loved Hurricane Matthew) … I decided it was time for another coppicing session, a severe one too.

Grew faster & thicker than usual.

Grew faster & thicker than usual.

I also decided, with so much Curry Leaves going to be available after the cutting and snipping, to try making Curry Leaf Pesto, out of curiousity . These days with global fusion cuisine there’s no reason why Pesto has to be Italian in taste and aroma, and only be used on pasta, right?

With the kind contribution of a Facebook friend, I got a link to a recipe from ‘The Star’ that did not look too complicated.  recipeSo a portion of the tallest branch was trimmed and the leaves washed & dried.

All needed ingredients.

All mentioned ingredients.

And the outcome… ?

a mildly fragrant pasta

a mildly fragrant, delicious pesto!

I think this will go very well with brown rice and on toast and am going to put it to good use for tomorrow’s lunch.

 

 

 

… you think you know your Curry Leaf Plant?

The Curry Leaf Plant or Murraya Koenigii is actually a super strong rooted plant. At the change of seasons it may shed its leaves and look dead BUT never assume it’s dead and throw it away. 99% of chances are it will come back to life when the time is right.

Today, with the weather warm and summer-like, I know that Curry Leaf Plants are raring to take root, shoot to life and grow. So I unearthed several baby-plants to put in pots.

Young and ready to spring to life.

Young and ready to spring to life

Roots are twice the stem's length

Roots are twice the stem’s length

Each plant with its root gently curled is potted.

Each plant with its root gently curled is potted.

In a month’s time, these baby Curry Leaf Plants will no longer require ‘nursing’ care and are ready to be adopted. Fellow gardeners on the waiting list, your wait is about to end. :mrgreen:

 

You growing a Curry Leaf Plant? When coppiced, it ‘speaks’

This tall and lanky Curry Leaf plant has been coppiced every 6 months. Why? I have found out that it actually reveals the forthcoming change of seasons … micro-climatewise, i.e.

It's springing to life!

It’s springing to life!

 

These stalks have been almost bald for winter and that is when dried curry leaves are needed in my kitchen. In the last fortnight, tiny greens have emerged from some pretty thick stems and this tells me that the soil it’s growing in is nice and warm enough for seed sowing.

Yes, my seeds have been sown… :mrgreen: vegetable seeds, that is.

Vigorously sprouting ...

Vigorously sprouting …

Almost Bonsai looking.

Almost Bonsai looking.

And they do scream that they are coming back to life when I’m close to them in the morning as the dew on their leaves dry … they remind me of the fragrance of curries.

This particular Curry Leaf Plant (Murraya Koenigii) was planted there specifically to help shade a south wall in summer (click link to see what I mean), see the blank wall? I thought coppicing it would make it shorter and thicker but it did not quite work out that way.

So in December, knowing that the Chinese Year of the Monkey was around the corner, I decided to experiment ~ the mad monkey way… that is, anything goes.
(See my next post.)

 

Never underestimate a Stick-in-the-Mud!

Mother Nature will work at her own pace, in her own time & as she pleases.

Late spring is the time when I propagate tropical herbs in preparation for their growth surge in summer. When late summer is warmer than expected, some cuttings do not make it and some just choose to hibernate. It is now Fall and it’s warmer than normal … but some “dead looking sticks” are coming back to life.

The Curry-Leaf plant (Murraya Koenigii) seems to always want do things their way, so fellow Murraya growers, do not be disheartened when you see a stick in your soil. Do not pull & discard, for they are tough dudes those Murrayas.

This is only my 3rd year of propagating this from cuttings. My mother plant simply does not bear flowers to produce seeds.

There's mama Murraya today.

There’s mama Murraya today.

Just for Information since I’ve had quite a few inquiries, I’m sorry to say I do not propagate to sell. I donate them to a couple of thrift shops with gardening corners & give them to some FB Friends from S.E. Asia now living in the US.
Yes, we curry cooking people just can’t do without them. :mrgreen:

Curry Leaf Plant ~ Sun or Shade?

Since my post on the recent coppicing of a Curry Leaf Plant (Murraya Koenigii), I have received 5 e-messages asking if they should be planted in sun or shade. I can only provide an answer to those living in zone 8b-10a in the northern hemisphere.  In summer – under the shade; in winter – indoors but at a spot with some sun.

My mature tree

My matured tree

My matured tree is in-ground on the south side, under partial shade in summer. It almost died when I first grew it from seed and unknowingly just shoved it in the ground ~ then winter came. I had to used warm packs each night & cover it with frost cloth and it still ended up looking like bald sticks!

6 mth old in pot

I now have several 6 month old plants grown from cuttings under shade. They are growing fine like the one in this pic.  They do not get full sun at all.

Sorry, these are not for sale but reserved for some friends who will be visiting later this year.

I have been really surprised by the number of readers interested in curry leaf plants lately ~ globalization, I guess.

Incidentally, apart from using it for curry dishes, I also use it as a tea, yes, to drink. If you are really curious, do read this Indepth Review for its medicinal and phytochemical properties.

Curry Leaf Plant Coppicing

From a tall, thin stem to a leaf bearing 'stump' of sort.

From a tall, thin stem to a leaf bearing ‘stump’ of sort.

The last coppice done (May 18th) has worked out well and borne leaves, lots of leaves, within easy reach and giving great shade to the wall against the summer sun.

Later today, I will coppice the next tallest stalk and hope it grows nice thick leaves like this one.

My next Curry Leaf Plant project.

My next Curry Leaf Plant project.

 

 

There will be ample fresh leaves for kitchen use and if any reader knows a good recipe for curry leaf pesto, please share.  Presently I am adding dried crushed curry leaves to my green tea and hopefully it is helping to keep my hair dark and healthy.  😀

Other ideas for its usage will be most welcomed.