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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Curry Trees and Curry Plants


Do you recognize this plant? It's not aquatic and, while it resembles lavender, its distinctive scent will tell you that's not so. While on a plant expedition, Bob detected the unmistakable aroma of curry and followed the scent to these immature gray plants tucked in a corner of the nursery. He was intrigued and brought them home for me to investigate. Anyone who can boil water knows that curry is a blend of spices, so, I was taken aback when my nose picked up the curry-like scent that came from the plant. A quick bite revealed a taste similar to a blend of black tea and wild greens. The flavor was strong and didn't have much to commend it, but I wanted to learn more. I'd done some rudimentary research on the leaf of the curry tree and how it was used it Asian and Indian cooking. Taste alone told me this was not a curry leaf. I wanted to learn more about the curry plant and how it differed from the tree. Google to the rescue. The curry tree above is an aromatic shrub that can grow to 6 or 7 feet tall. Its leaves are glossy, aromatic and look like bay leaves. They have a mild citrus flavor and are used in curries in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The gray curry plant shown at the beginning of this entry has little, if any, culinary value. You can blend a very small amount of it with cream cheese or mayonnaise to make a passable spread but it's not a dip you'll dream about or yearn for. It real value lies in its essential oils and those do have some medicinal value. That doesn't do much for gardeners or cooks. That leaves us with that lovely fragrance that's released each time a branch is cut or bruised. If you love the aroma of curry, this plant's for you. Otherwise it's a classic case of caveat emptor.

23 comments :

Maria said...

Great info!

Florida Sue said...

I grew these in Canada in my herb garden as an annual strictly for their gray foliage, but I found I couldn't put it in a bouquet. They are in the straw flower family as you no doubt found. Helichrysum italicum. They might be perennial here in Florida, but to me, they just overwhelmingly stink.

Norm said...

great post! you have a very interesting post, thanks for the visit..

Amongst The Oaks said...

Mary,
Every one of your posts makes me drool all over myself. How do you do it?
I have something for you on my blog. Please stop by.
~Laura

My Little Space said...

Very interesting!

Martha said...

I've had these in my herb garden as well -- the only plus IMO is that they do smell like curry -- I never did anything culinary with them.

fitty's pinky rose cottage said...

I love curry.. infact I cook curry almost every week and I also have curry plants in our garden.. the second photo is curry plant.. I don't know what plant it is as for the first photo..

even tho' I am not Indian, but as an Asian people, we can't ran away from eating curry.. Try to have few curry leaves in your curry cooking.. and your curry taste awesome!

Selba said...

An interesting info about curry, thanks for sharing!

Zoe said...

interesting post! Thanks!

Liza said...

It's the first time I've seen one, thank you for sharing. I learned something new today. :)

Would you mind exchanging links w/ me?

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I've had one of these curry plants several years now. I was very lucky the first time I found it the sales person was knowledgeable and told me straight off don't cook it, it turns bitter. Of course I had to try it. She was right. But I can see that it would be ok (not anything outstanding) in a cool uncooked dip. Still I really love the foliage and the scent in the garden so I keep getting one most years.
Nice post Mary!

Mary said...

Liza, I've left another comment for you on your blog. Check the Visits to Special Friends Area of my blog.

Liza said...

Thank you Mary. I have added you as well. I don't have a follower account for Yummy but I have followed you using my blogger account.

Thanks again. :)

Claudia said...

I love this post - I have seen these but never bougght them and now I will. I am attracted to strong aromas from the garden. Gorgeous!

girlichef said...

Huh. Very cool info..thank you..I love learning new things (food related or otherwise) ;)

Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Oh Mary!
How wonderful is that. You actually found curry at the nursery? I am like you as I am always intriqued by a new plant. I just love, love, love trying to grow something new. Your Oregon posting is beautiful. I was going to post our Oregon vacation, but decided to stick with the 4th this week. You'll have to keep watching. We went to a bed and breakfast in Brookings, right on the Ocean. It was so wonderful. Thanks for stopping by, and loved your post. "Country Hugs", Sherry

Mary at My New 30 said...

Well, maybe it's "smelly" and not fit for consumption, but I think it's pretty!! Thanks for sharing the info.

NatureFootstep Photo said...

Hi there, I hav had a bit of a problem accessing your blogg. Now I am on a different location and it works. But now I can´t find your blue monday entrance. :( Anyway, there is some blue plant in this entry. :)

Hope to see you again, when I get my new computer up and runnung.

Hootin' Anni said...

This is one great post!!!

Lori said...

Are you reading my mind. Two night ago I was in search of a curry tree for my house. And here you have it. I simply must get one! Now I just have to find where to order it!

Katy ~ said...

I would have bought it too, just for the novelty of it as I'm not a big curry fan. I think it was a fun purchase, and I learned something today!

Maria Berg said...

Thank you for the lesson.

Yes, Curry is a mixture of many spices and When I was in India, different family had different things mixtures.

/MB

CatieCat said...

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I happened upon the "ice" curry plant (name the nursery had given it) last year and am now actively looking for one again.

All winter I used sprigs in "pots" of cooking...to flavor broth, pots of beans, chicken stock and the like. It adds a dimension to the flavor that was well received (I prefer it over rosemary). Served it in prepared spreads for some "love to cook&eat" friends....not so much.

Not sure how the British make it palatable but that was the only use I could find for it.

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