The leaves are highly valued as seasoning in southern and west-coast Indian cooking, and Sri Lankan cooking, much like bay leaves, and especially in curries, usually fried along with the chopped onion in the first stage of the preparation. They are also used to make thoran, vada, rasam and kadhi. In their fresh form, they have a short shelf life, and they don't keep well in the refrigerator. They are also available dried, though the aroma is largely inferior.
The leaves of Murraya koenigii are also used as a herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Their properties include much value as an anti-diabetic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, anti-hypercholesterolemic etc. Curry leaves are also known to be good for hair, for keeping it healthy and long. They also contain iron.
Although most commonly used in curries, leaves from the curry tree can be used in many other dishes to add spice.
Seeds must be ripe and fresh to plant; dried or shriveled fruits are not viable. Plant either the whole fruit (or remove the pulp) in potting mix and keep moist but not wet.
The curry tree (Sinhala: Tamil: (curry), Kannada: Telugu: Malayalam:) (Murraya koenigii; syn. Bergera koenigii, Chalcas koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India. The name itself in Tamil is pronounced as 'kariveppilai' ( kari-curry, veppu- neem and ilai-leaf ) which is the literal translation of curry leaves. The Tamil name means "leaf that is used to make curry" and it is present in almost all the dishes of Tamil nadu (a state in south India) in addition to coriander leaves. Often used in curries, the leaves generally go by the name "curry leaves", though they are also called "sweet neem leaves." It is an unavoidable content of curries in South India, where without curry leaves, curry seems to be tasteless. The Kannada name means "black neem", since the appearance of the leaves is similar to the unrelated bitter neem tree. Same way in Gujarati it is known as "limdo" or "meetho leemdo" (means Sweet neem). Curry leaves are also entirely unrelated to bay leaves and basil leaves, which are aromatic leaves from the Mediterranean.
It is a small tree, growing 4-6 m tall, with a trunk up to 40cm diameter. The leaves are pinnate, with 11-21 leaflets, each leaflet 2-4 cm long and 1-2 cm broad. They are highly aromatic. The flowers are small, white, and fragrant. The small black shiny berries are edible, but their seeds are poisonous.
The species name commemorates the botanist Johann König.