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Murraya koenigii

Curry leaves Salam koja Rutaceae

Curry leaves, salam koja, Murraya koenigii

The curry tree 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 'kariveppilai' (literally "curry" (kari) "neem" (veppu) "leaf" (ilai)). It is present in almost all the dishes of Tamil Nadu. Often used in curries, the leaves generally go by the name "curry leaves", though they are also called "sweet neem leaves". The Kannada name means "black neem", since the appearance of the leaves is similar to the unrelated bitter neem tree. Similarly in Gujarati it is known as "limdo" or "meetho leemdo" (meaning "sweet neem").
The small flowers are white and fragrant.
Ripe and unripe fruits
Jayanti in Buxa Tiger Reserve in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, India.

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.

The leaves are highly valued as seasoning in southern and west-coast Indian cooking, and Sri Lankan cooking, 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. They are much valued 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 flavor.

Seeds must be ripe and fresh to plant; dried or shriveled fruits are not viable. You can plant the whole fruit, but it's best to remove the pulp before planting in potting mix that is kept moist but not wet.

Stem cuttings can be also used for propagation.