24 October 2012

Flavour of the Week

The flavour of the week is curry leaf. Curry leaf, also known as Bergera koenigii, Chalcas koenigii, or Dhivehi is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae which is native to India.
Curry tree is a fast-growing deciduous shrub or small tree with deep roots and scented leaves. It can can grow to 6 m high and the bark is dark brown, almost black. The berries are poisonous. The leaves are an important ingredient in curry in South India and Sri Lanka. They look rather like bay leaves and have a smoky deep flavour. In South Asia they are used fresh and dried in cooking. Fresh leaves are also steam distilled to produce an oil which is used for the production of soap. It is important to note that British curry powder does not contain curry leaf. Ingredients it may include are chilli peppers, cumin, corainder seeds, black pepper and dried ginger.
Curry leaf is used in South Asian traditional medicine to treat the digestive system, skin conditions and diabetes. Its anti-diabetic properties are supported by scientific research. Scientists believe that the Indian curry may contain agents that slow down the rate of starch-to-glucose breakdown in people with diabetes. The tree's leaves could control the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream.
Curry leaves are readily available on line and in Eastern speciality shops. The tree grows well in temperate areas and can even handle some frost. A tincture of curry leaf adds a subtle smoky depth to a cocktail.

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