To make a
good Indian dish great, just add fresh curry leaves.
The leaves must be fresh because once dried, they become
relatively bland. The good news is that curry trees are one of
the easiest and hardiest plants to grow. Curry leaves are added
either fresh or lightly fried in oil to dishes generally towards
the conclusion of cooking. They are then either taken out or
left in, depending on the diner’s preference.
Curry leaves are traditionally used to soothe stomach upsets.
They are most effective in cooling the burning pain of ulcers
and skin conditions. In Ayurvedic medicine, diarrhea and
dysentery are also treated with curry leaves. They are often
thrown into dahls and chutneys to combat gas and worms.
To keep curry leaves fresh for months, keep them on the stalk
and store them in the freezer in an air-filled plastic bag.
People tend to avoid this wonderful spice because of its
taste. But the secret to reduce its bitterness is to dry roast
fenugreek seeds, which renders them more palatable.
Why bother using fenugreek at all? The ancient Greeks,
Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians highly prized this spice for its ability to increase breast milk, ease childbirth,
and reduce period pain and stomach cramps. Modern science has also confirmed its efficacy as a
hypoglycemic agent for late onset diabetes. For stubborn pimples, boils, or cellulitis, make a poultice of the
powdered seeds and apply the warm paste to the affected area for 20 minutes.
The Chinese recommended 1/2 tsp seeds daily to maintain a healthy female
reproductive system. Its mucilaginous and lymphatic properties are also good for lymphatic conditions and lung
problems such as smokers’ cough. This can be taken as a tea by adding 1 tsp of seeds to 2 cups of
boiling water. Boil down to one cup, strain, and drink up to three cups a day. Fenugreek is a spice that should be
avoided during pregnancy as it can promote uterine contractions.