Family: Rutaceae

Synonymy: Bergera koenigii

Common Name: Curry Leaf

Local name: Gandhelu (गंधेलू), Mitha neem, Gandhla, Gandhela

Gandhelu is a small evergreen shrub or tree with pungent foliage. Gandhelu is very easily growing plant commonly seen growing up to an altitude of 1500 m above the sea level. It grows best in full sun but also succeed well in most soils and generally prefers a fertile, humus-rich, moisture-retentive but well-drained light soil.

A shrub Gandhelu in wild habitat


                Leaves and fruits of Gandhelu are edible. Leaves are eaten raw or cooked. Fruits are eaten when they are ripe. Gandhelu is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine in Western Himalayas, Sometimes it is also cultivated for its edible leaves, fruits and for harnessing its medicinal values in the gardens and homewards. Gandhelu can be used as a hedge and as an ornamental shrub . Its leaves are often sold in local market.

Harvesting of Gandhelu leaves from wild. A child eating raw leaves . Young mind need to be trained like this to involve wild herb in their life style to keep them healthy in current scenario.

             The pungent, aromatic leaves of Gandhelu are used in cooking, they are common ingredient of curries, chutneys, soups, pickles etc. Leaves are used as a flavoring agent in these preparations and impart a very good flavor to the preparations. This is the reason that Gandhelu leaves are commonly known as Curry Leaf. The leaves retain their characteristic flavor and aroma even after drying. The shiny-black fruits of Gandhelu are very nutritious, they are liked both by children and adults and known to have many medicinal properties.

       Almost every part of Gandhelu has a strong characteristic odour. The people of the plains, particularly of southern India, use the leaves of this plant as a spice in different curry preparations.

Gandhelu leaves can be dried for later use, these dried leaves are also sold by members of various Self Help Groups in market

Gandhelu Plant:

Plant is small spreading evergreen shrub or small tree, 2 to 2.5 metres high; the main stem, dark green to brownish, with numerous dots on it; its bark can be peeled off longitudinally, exposing the white wood underneath; the girth of the main stem is 16 cm.

Gandhelu tree

            Leaves, exstipulate, bipinnately compound, 30 cm long, each bearing 24 leaflets, having reticulate venation; leaflets, lanceolate, 4.9 cm long, 1.8 cm broad, having 0.5-cm-long petiole.

Flowers, bisexual, white, funnel-shaped, sweetly scented, stalked, complete, ebracteate, regular, actinomorphic, pentamerous, hypogynous, the average diameter of a fully opened flower being 1.12 cm; inflorescence, a terminal cyme, each bearing 60 to 90 flowers; calyx, 5-lobed, persistent, inferior, green; corolla, white, polypetalous, inferior, with 5 petals, lanceolate; length, 5 mm; androecium, polyandrous, inferior, with 10 stamens, dorsifixed, arranged into circles of five each; smaller stamens, 4 mm. long whereas the longer ones, 5 to 6 mm; gynoecium, 5 to 6 mm long; stigma, bright, sticky; style, short; ovary, superior.

Fruits, round to oblong, 1.4 to 1.6 cm long, 1 to 1.2 cm in diameter; weight, 880 mg; volume, 895 microlitres; fully ripe fruits, black with a very shining surface; pulp, Wistaria blue 640/2; the number of fruits per cluster varying from 32 to 80.

Edible leaves and fruits of Gandhelu

Seed, one in each fruit, 11 mm long, 8 mm in diameter, colour spinach green 0960/3; weight, 445 mg; volume, 460 microlitres 1.

Edible Uses:

Tender leaves are eaten raw by local people to harness its medicinal properties, these are also dried, ground into powder and used as a spice to flavour different vegetable curries. Raw leaves are ingredient of curries and chutneys.

Vegetable curry:

Ingredients required:

 Gandhelu leaves (Murraya koenigii), 100g; mustard oil, 5-6 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder,1 tea spoon; cumin seed, 1 table spoon; turmeric powder, 1; table spoon. red chillies, 2-4; medium sized chopped onion, 1; chopped garlic cloves, 4-5; green coriander leaves (chopped), half cup amount; ginger paste, 1/2 table spoon; curd or butter milk, 1kg; besan, 4-5 table spoon; branded garam masala,1 tea spoon; salt, according to taste.

Vegetable curry of Gandhelu leaves and Colocasia esculenta stem

Method:

For preparing curry mix well ½ kg butter milk or curd and saute it with spices in hot mustered oil listed above in sequence along with Gandhelu leaves. Cook till it boils and garnish with Garam masala and coriander leaves.

Chutney:

Ingredients:

Fresh mint (poodina) leaves, 200 gm; fresh Gandhelu leaves, 100gm; tirmire leaves, 50gm: anardana, 100gm; red chillies, 5-8; medium sized chopped onions, 2-3; tomatoes ,2-3; apple, 1-2 and salt, according to taste.

Method:

For preparing chutney, grind all the ingredients in a mixer except salt. Take out this mixture in a deep container then add salt. Now chutney is ready to serve.

Edible ripe fruits of Gandhelu.

The major part of the fruit is occupied by the seed and the edible portion is only 49.4 per cent of the whole fruit. The fruits are very sweet and are eaten fresh. They have a characteristic odour which make them slightly unpleasant. The overall fruit quality is fair1..

 Pulp of fruits contain 64.9 per cent moisture. The content of total soluble solids of the fruit juice is 16.8 per cent. The pulp contains 9.76 per cent total sugars, 9.58 per cent reducing sugars, 0.17 percent non-reducing sugars and almost a negligible amount of tannin and acidity. The vitamin C content of the fruit, which is 13.35 mg per 100 g of the pulp, is better than that of many fruits studied during the course of the present investigation 1.

The mineral content of the edible portion of the fruit, as represented by its ash, is 2.162 per cent. Similarly, 100 g of the edible portion of the fruit contains, protein, 1.97 g; phosphorus, 0.082 g, potassium, 0.811 g, calcium, 0.166 g; magnesium, 0.216 g; and iron, 0.007 g1. .

Chemical constituents in plant:

The major aroma constituents in the oil are b- caryophyllene, b- gurjunene, b- elemene, and b- phellandrene. An alkaloid, murrayacinine, is also found in this plant 1,2 ..

Medicinal properties

The leaves, the bark and the roots of Gandhelu can be used as a tonic and a stomachic. The bark and the roots are used as a stimulant by the physicians. They are also used externally to cure eruptions and the bites of poisonous animals. The green leaves are stated to be eaten raw for curing dysentery, and the infusion of the washed leaves stops vomiting 3,4.Plant is also known to cure labour pain, rheumatism and used as tonic5. A strong odiferous oil occur the leaves and the seeds of Gandhelu exhibiting a strong antibacterial and antifungal activity 6. A significant reduction in fasting blood sugar and postprandial blood sugar was observed by feeding (12 gm) leaves powder to Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus patients (NIDDM)7.

Other Uses:

The branches of Gandhelu very popular for cleaning the teeth as datoon and are said to strengthen the gums and the teeth.Compound leaves present in this plant is quite ornamental, so it is also used as a hedge and as an ornamental shrub. Local people believed that this plant keep ghost and snake away, so they prefer to cultivate it around their home . The leaves are thought to be a hair tonic in India, where it is believed that they can prevent the hair graying 8.

Gandhelu a source of income:

Women in Western Himalayas dry Gandhelu leaves and sell through Self Help Group. A small packing of 100 g earn 30 to 50 Rs for them.

A women of Self Help Group selling dried leaves of Gandhelu At Seri Munch of Mandi town

References:

1.Parmar, C. and M.K. Kaushal (1982), Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region, Kalyani Publishers, Ludhiana.

2 Purohit SS, Sharma AK, Prajapati ND, Kumar T. (2009); A handbook of medicinal plants: a complete source book. Edition.;2:352-3.

3.Watt G. (1891). A dictionary of the economic products of India. Periodical Experts.

4.Kirtikar & Basu, (1935); Indian Medicinal Plants, Vol. III, Bishan Singh Mahedra Pal Singh, Dehradun.

5.Chopra, R.N., Nayar, S.L. & Chopra, I.C (1956). Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants. CSIR, New Delhi  Watt G. A dictionary of the economic products of India. Periodical Experts; 1891.

6.Nigam SS, Purohit RM. Chemical examination of the essential oil derived from the leaves of Murraya koenigii (Linn.) Spreng. Indian curry leaf). Perfum Ess Oil Rec. 1961;11:152-55.

7. Khan Beena A, Abraham Annie, Leelamma S.(1995) ;  Hypoglycemic Action Of Murraya koenigii And Brassica juncea: Mechanism Of Action, Indian J. Biochem. Biophys., 32(2):106-108.

8. Bown. D. (1995): Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN,0-7513-020-31.                       

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