Curry leaves (the humble kadi patta or mitha neem) and coriander leaves are the two most underrated greens in a world where customers are aware of super-foods and super-veggies, thanks to the proliferation of digital media. In this article, we are going to look at the health benefits of these leaves.
Curry Leaves: No Indian menu in south India and a few other states is complete without a dash of sautéd curry leaves. Whether it is plain dal or dal makhani or curries or rasam or sambar, curry leaves add that unique flavour to food. Curry leaves are rich in antioxidants and chlorophyll. They also contain minerals and essential nutrients needed for our physical well-being. Consumption of curry leaves regularly can improve eyesight, control the level of sugar in blood and reduce cholesterol levels. Curry leaves are rich in fibre and this is what makes these leaves unique. Consumption of a few twigs of curry leaves early in the morning on an empty stomach can also lead to health benefits like improved metabolism and digestion.
Curry leaves can also be dried, powdered along with a few proteins (like udad dal) and used as a side-dish for rotis or curd-rice. The curry leaf powder available in supermarkets is often loaded with too much of chilli or salt. So, it is better to make curry leaf powder at home. South Indian homes generally prepare buttermilk adding a dash of curry leaves, lemon and a bit of ginger. This is really a wonder drink.
It is simple to make. Churn the curd with sufficient quantity of boiled and cooled water to make about 10 glasses of buttermilk. Sprinkle asafoetida and a pinch of salt. Shred the curry leaves into small pieces using your hands. Scrape ginger so that the skin is peeled off so that you can cut the ginger into minute pieces. Stir the contents well and top it up with a spoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Your herbal buttermilk is now ready to drink. It is not uncommon to add finely shredded coriander leaves to this buttermilk. Coriander leaves are rich in iron.
So, the next time you make sambar or daal or a vegetable curry, add loads of curry leaves so that your dishes are flavourful and appetising. What is more—as you keep consuming curry leaves, you will realise a number of health benefits as a collateral benefit. Dried or processed curry leaves are not as useful as they contain an excess of oil/ salt and, sometimes, preservatives. It is also advisable to buy a stock of curry leaves that will last for two or three days and then replenish the stock. If you stock them in the refrigerator, they will soon dry up. Curry leaves can be washed, dried and boiled along with coconut oil. Cool this oil and this can be used as hair oil for growing black, long and shiny hair. You can apply the oil at night and wash it off in the morning.
Coriander: Coriander leaves and dried coriander seeds are commonly used in Indian cooking. These leaves are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and proteins. They also contain small amounts of calcium, phosphorous, potassium, thiamine, niacin and carotene. Coriander is used for digestion problems including upset stomach, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhoea, bowel spasms and intestinal gas. It is also used to treat measles, haemorrhoids, toothaches, worms, and joint pain, as well as bacterial and fungal infections.
Regular consumption of fresh coriander leaves lowers blood sugar, eases digestion, decreases blood pressure and reduces cholesterol levels and helps address urinary tract infections. A small quantity of coriander seeds boiled in water can act as a good diuretic. It is important that you buy stock of coriander leaves that will last only for two or three days so that you get the benefit of all the nutrients that the leaves contain. Coriander increases the levels of HDL cholesterol. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Coriander seeds are especially good for the menstrual flow and also best to treat anaemia.
It is wise to include curry leaves and coriander leaves as part of your regulardiet. Mix equal quantities of cumin and coriander seeds and grind them well into a finely textured powder. Consumption of one spoon of this powder daily can help control triglyceride levels in blood.