Saturday, November 6, 2010

Curry Plant, Did You Know?

So who knew about the curry plant? Why have I never heard about such a thing??

Last weekend when I visited the Memphis Farmer's Market with my father, we stopped by the plant lady who was selling all her remaining pots of herbs for $2 a pot. She had basil and dill, cilantro and parsley, thyme and...curry?

Yes one of her plants was labeled as a curry plant. I put my nose to it's rosemary-like leaves. Yup, that smelled like curry alright. The lady came over to us and informed us that yes, this plant was the main ingredient in curry powder. My father and I stood dumbfounded. I have had many different curry powders in my cabinet in my day, but I had always been told that it was a spice blend, much like Garam Masala.

So we took the plant home and my father chopped some up to put on a white fish for the evening. The fish didn't taste a thing like curry. But I did note a slightly bitter taste. Oh well, I thought, maybe there was some other seasoning on the fish, or maybe I was just not used to this particular fish. I finished it and moved on.

Then I sat down to write this post and started doing some research on the Internet. And came across this article about The Real Curry Plant. It is really a cool article.

Apparently the plant that we purchased at the FM was called Helichrysum Angustifolium which is an ornamental plant that smells like curry. However it is not at all edible. And you know what...the site said it had a characteristic bitter taste. The plant should be used in pot pourris and the like.
The site also goes onto say that curries actually are spice blends, all made up of things you have heard of like red pepper, cumin, ginger, coriander and turmeric, etc. These spice blends are indeed known as Masala in India. The English word curry comes from the Indian (Hindi? The site didn't specify) word kari meaning soup or stew. And many many curries are stews of meat and or vegetables.

So don't let this happen to you. I feel so duped. Fortunately, the herb is not poisonous, just not delicious. And I much prefer delicious food to non-delicious food.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man. Now I'll have to, check the tag that came with my curry plant. I haven't used it yet but, was sure when I bought it, that it would be edible. If not, it still looks nice in my garden and smells good. But, I'll be looking for fresh curry leaves at the indian markets and the real curry leaf plant at the plant nurseries.