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The Flavor Savior – Curry Leaves

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CURRY LEAVES

The curry leaf tree or the curry leaves form a substantial part of Indian cooking especially in South India and south-western cooking in India. It is used as a flavouring and seasoning agent and added to all kinds of gravies and vegetable dishes. The curry leaf tree or Murraya koenigii is a tropical tree in the family Rutaceae and is native to the Indian subcontinent. Curry leaf tree is also called karuveppilai, sweet neem, Kadi Patta, curry vepilla, karivepaku or noroxingho pat depending on the region of India. Curry leaves are also found in Sri Lanka, parts of Thailand and Cambodia where it is used in native cooking.

CURRY LEAVES

The plant is identifiable as being 4–6 m (13–20 feet) tall, with a trunk up to 40 cm (16 in) diameter, having a distinct aroma. Even though the tree produces both flowers and fruits only the leaves are used and have a vast majority of health benefits. Curry leaves are small in size and long, slender, and oval in shape narrowing to a point, averaging 2-4 centimeters in length and 1-2 centimeters in width.

It is said that curry leaves have a vast majority of anti-disease properties and are used as an herb in ayurvedic and Siddha medicine. The leaves are said to have anti-inflammatory properties, antimicrobial properties and are eaten to help digestion and ease digestive issues. Since it is a carrier of iron and folic acid, it also keeps anemia at bay. It helps to increase the body’s capacity to absorb iron and folic acid. It is also used to revitalize hair and is used as a treatment for dandruff.

CURRY LEAVES

Curry leaves are often sautéed with oil, mustard seeds, chilli, chilli powders, turmeric and other spices to give a mixture of spiced flavouring to curries, vegetable dishes and meat dishes. The leaves can also be cooked and ground with coconut and chillies and made into a chutney or Kariveppilai Thuvaiyal that can be eaten with roti (Indian flatbread) and rice.

Dishes from Kerala which include curry leaves range from buttermilk (moru) to thorans (cooked vegetables), meen curry (fish curry). Dishes in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu include – curry leaves rice (karibevu bath), curry leaves powder (karuveppilai podi), coconut curry leaves chutney for dosa and idly and Kuzhambu Recipes. North Indian recipes for curry leaves include kadhi and variants of chaas or buttermilk. Assamese recipes for fish curries also use curry leaves for seasoning. some meat dishes of chicken, fish, mutton all include the use of curry leaves.

Jhumpa Lahiri- Author of Immigrant perspectives

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JHUMPA LAHIRI

Books like “Interpreter of Maladies” and “The Namesake” have always been widely appreciated by the masses. The woman behind those wonderful words is Jhumpa Lahiri, a critically acclaimed author. 

Jhumpa Lahiri or Nilanjana Sudeshna “Jhumpa” Lahiri, is an American author who has published numerous short stories and novels all in English. But recently she has started to translate her work in Italian. Some of her famous works are Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, The Lowland and Unaccustomed Earth. 

Lahiri’s debut book was a collection of short stories Interpreter of Maladies (1999) which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. And her first novel The Namesake (2003) was adapted into a movie with the same name. Her second short-story collection Unaccustomed Earth (2008) won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, whereas her second novel The Lowland (2013) was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize as well as the National Book Award for Fiction.

jhumpa lahiri

In her own personal achievements, Lahiri has won National Humanities Award; and she is a professor of creative writing at Princeton University.

We can draw some main characteristics in Lahiri’s writing. Her writings mainly use a plain language, something that is understood by any age group even though the problem or theme is related to one generation or age-group. The main thing that is commonly seen in her workings is that the characters are mostly Indian Immigrants to America, something that she draws parallels to her own life with. These characters are frequently people who have to struggle through adjusting to new values and customs of America, which are very distinct from their homeland. The characters that are drawn in Lahiri’s books are carefully drafted. We can say that she examines and writes a strong character with struggles, anxieties and the detailing towards immigrant psychology is worth the acclamation she gets. 

Lahiri’s fiction can be said as autobiographical because it many a time draws up her personal experiences as well as those of her parents, friends and acquaintances from Bengali community which is familiar to her. 

Turmeric: The Yellow Gold

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turmeric

Turmeric is a flowering plant, Curcuma longa of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, the roots of which are used in cooking. The plant is native to the Indian subcontinent and south-east Asia and is used for various purposes that include cooking, flavouring and dyeing. Turmeric is used in Iranian, Moroccan, Indonesian and Cambodian cuisines. The rhizomes are collected and then used fresh or boiled then dried for the purpose of powdering for consumption. The powder is of very concentrated yellow-orange pigment.

Turmeric is used for a variety of uses because of the presence of the bright yellow chemical curcumin used for the production of herbal dye commonly used in India for dying. Turmeric tincture is used for making indicators to differentiate acids and bases. Turmeric also has a large variety of health benefits as it is an anti-inflammatory substance. It is used for hay turmericfever, high cholesterol, liver disease, and itching. It also has symbolic value in certain rituals across India which include the Haldi ceremony before weddings for the purpose of purifying and beautification.

In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh both have marital rituals involving tying strips of turmeric tubers to create a Thali necklace, during weddings of the Marathi and Konkani people and Kannada Brahmins, turmeric tubers are tied with strings by the couple to their wrists during the ceremony of Kankanabandhana.

Turmeric is used extensively in cuisines across India and other countries as well. It is used primarily in savoury dishes but is also used in some sweet dishes to impart colour and give an earthy flavour. It is used in curries and gravies for both vegetable and meat turmericpreparations to give the orange-yellow colour to most Indian preparations.

Some of the curries include – rasam, sambar, kadhi and dal It is also used for marination of meats before they are fried or grilled. It is also used for some sweets like Kesari Bath– a sweet from Karnataka which uses semolina flour, ghee and nuts as well as patoleo – a Goan Christian steamed rice pancake with jaggery and turmeric. In South Africa and Iran, turmeric is used to give boiled rice a golden colour known as geelrys. In Thai cuisine, turmeric is added to milk and used in Thai curries and soup.

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