It is rich. It is beautiful. It is beneficial and does not taste bad. It has a pleasing aroma and is a must in most Indian curries, only to end up most times in the waste tray. This is the story of Murraya koenigii or in layman's language, the common "Curry Leaf".
Curry leaf tree is a small unarmed tree, which has highly aromatic leaves. It has a dark grey bark and closely crowded spreading dark green foliage. It grows up to 4-6 m tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm diameter. The leaves are impari-pinnate, alternately arranged, obliquely ovate or somewhat rhomboid with 11-21 leaflets, each leaflet 2-4 cm long and 1-2 cm broad.
The tree is deciduous, five meter in height, 15-40 cm in diameter. The flowers are white and fragrant, seen in much branched terminal corymbose cymes. It is cultivated mainly in homesteads but to a certain extent on a plantation scale. The fruits are subglobose or ellipsoid berries, purplish black when ripe and are two seeded. Curry leaf is found almost throughout India up to an altitude of 1,500 meters. It is much cultivated for its aromatic leaves. The roots, bark and the leaves are bitter, acrid, astringent, cooling, aromatic, demulcent , depurative, anthelmintic, febrifuge, stomachic, appetizing, carminative, anodyne, constipating, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and tonic.
The leaf is used in South India as a natural flavouring agent in various curries. Volatile oil is used as a fixative for soap perfume. The leaves are said to have properties that would bring value as an anti-diabetic, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, anti-hypercholesterolemic etc. Preparations of Curry leaves are also useful in hyperdipsia, burning sensation, pruritis, in many skin diseases, and also in suppurating ulcers.
The leaves can be used as a home remedy for anorexia, helmintiasis, colic and flatulence. Decoction is very effective in diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting. The mixture of curry leaf paste and fresh turmeric rhizome is very effective in allergic conditions, especially pertaining to respiratory system.
Oil prepared with curry leaf juice and "Brhringraj" (Eclipta alba) juice is excellent to prevent white hairs and also for promoting hair growth.