Παρασκευή, 27 Ιουλίου 2012

Curry Plant

"Is this the real curry plant where curry seasoning comes from?” the lady asked, holding a little pot of herbs tenderly in her hand.

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“Yes, that’s where Indian curries get their flavor,” the sales clerk said with a smile.
Next to me at a flower and garden show was a plant nursery booth, selling many varieties of herbs. I wasn’t surprised at the clerk’s answer, but I was sorry that she was misleading her customer.
The truth is, the plant called “curry” isn’t actually an edible plant at all. Helichrysum italicum, sometimes listed as H. angustifolium, is the herb commonly sold as a curry plant by well-meaning nurseries and garden centers. It has a warm, curry-like fragrance, but is bitter to the taste. More reputable plant sellers will tell you the plant is not edible and will encourage you to grow the plant for use in potpourris and wreaths, but not for food. For more information about this plant, check The Big Book of Herbs (Interweave, 2000) by Arthur O. Tucker and Thomas DeBaggio.
The seasoning we think of as curry is called masala in India. That seasoning makes curries, but curries differ by their ingredients just as the meaning of the word “salad” differs based on its ingredients in our culture. In India, the word kari means sauce or stew. All of these stews have the masala seasoning in common, so in past centuries people outside of India simply lumped everything together calling it curry, a variation of the word kari, for sauce.
Actual curry seasoning is a blend of ground cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, red pepper, fenugreek, allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, mustard, fennel and mace. In that mix, several of the ingredients, including mustard, cumin, coriander, fennel and cinnamon, are roasted separately before being ground and added to the other ingredients. Curry is a complex seasoning that varies from region to region (nothing like the generic combination found in the grocery store), even from family to family throughout Southeast Asia. Curry seasonings are often vastly different depending on the season. During summer months, the seasoning is mixed with spices that cool the body and in winter, a different blend helps keep the body warm.
I’m not sure why plant sellers continue to sell that little Helichrysum they call curry plant. It’s a finicky, picky little plant, prone to fungal problems, webworms and other pests. It’s not hardy unless you live in Zone 7b or 8. More to the point, why consider it an herb if it’s neither edible nor medicinal?

Read more: http://www.herbcompanion.com/Gardening/The-Real-Curry-Plant.aspx#ixzz21oXfX1Wo

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