Indian Curry Leaf
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Ann Alexis
Posted on: May 5, 1998

I just purchased a plant called a "curry" plant - Helichrysum angustifolium. The leaves do not look like the curry leaves I buy at Indian stores for cooking. Could you identify this plant please?

The plant in the Indian stores is Murraya koenigii, commonly known in English as "Curry leaf tree". We are trying to get this plant growing in our greenhouses and we hope to be able to offer plants in the future. It will take a year or two before we have enough to put it in our catalogue. This is the plant that is the keynote flavour of South Indian cuisine. It is among my personal favourite aromas and flavours.

The "curry plant" you purchased is totally unlike the Indian curry leaf. This is a cousin of strawflower and everlasting. It has a mild curry-like scent but the flavour is nothing like the true curry. Some authors suggest it can be used in cooking. No doubt there are inventive ways to use it; but it is not a substitute for either the true curry or the curry leaf tree.

True Indian curry is, of course, a mixture of spices such as turmeric and cumin.

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