color from spices

Indian curry tree 

I was born and raised in Malaysia, I am accustomed with curry leaf, or Murraya koenigii in Latin. The leaves are used as a seasoning in southern and western Indian cooking. It has a subtle and delicate flavor, and it should not be confused with curry powder, which is actually a blend of different spices. I still missed this tree growing in our garden back home in Malaysia. I have had tried finding it in nursery and even growing it from seeds without any success.

One day, with luck I found it in Chico! A synopsis of the story…. We took our daughter to visit her friend in Chico and while we were there, we stayed at a local motel. As we were walking towards the reception area, I saw a silhouette of a curry tree in the front porch of the motel. I was excited and walked over to confirm what I saw was true. I asked the owner, who happened to be from India. He was excited and pleased to hear that I recognized the plant and offered me some seedlings. I was ecstatic! Time flies, this tree is almost 10-year-old and is growing in our greenhouse along with Kaffir lime and Citron. They make me feel a little less home sick whenever I missed traditional Indian curry.

kafffir lime leaf for thai cuisine

citron or buddha’s hand, or etrog (Hebrew word) is a fragrant fruit used in some cuisine and tradition. It is also used by Jews for a religious ritual during the feast of tabernacles

A thought came to mind while I was weeding the other day, was to experiment if these spices give color or if it prints? So, I got up and walked to the greenhouse and snipped some leaves for my experiment. Then I bundled a sprig of kaffir lime and curry leaf in two different small pieces of fabric and steamed it for an hour. The smell from the pot exudes a concoction of sweet and spicy notes of curry and tom yam….yummy.

curry leaf on silk georgette

prominent prints from curry and kaffir lime on coarse woven fabric

close up view of prints

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“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happiest”.

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3 Responses to color from spices

  1. kristin says:

    I love curries, but have only used the powder. The plant would probably grow very well here in Tucson, since citrus does very well. How would you use the leaf in cooking as opposed to the powder?


    • mltai says:

      Ooh, you touched my sensitive spot—which is cooking. This plant would certainly do well in your area. As for using this leaf for cooking–you would stir fry this leaf in oil along with other spices over medium heat until it is fragrant. Then you would add your other ingredients. Would you like a link to my cooking blog?


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