Perhaps this is why it is so popular in local kitchens. Probably, their flavor traveled to the rest of the South Asian countries―Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar from the Indian subcontinent, and then took up home in their cuisines as well.
Very rarely it is ground along with other spices, more often than not, it is the first thing in the oil to be used to make the curry itself. Not surprisingly, the curry then acquires a personality of its own, aptly flavored by the little leaves.
Apart from cooking, the curry leaf has a number of medicinal uses. It is an essential ingredient of almost all traditional medicine systems of peninsular India, sometimes with amazingly good results. Unani, Ayurveda, and other systems use it to cure ailments such as piles, to allay heat in the body, leukoderma, and blood-related disorders.
There are many traditional remedies for everyday discomforts that utilize the goodness of the curry leaf, and we've listed a few. To gain relief from constipation, one can soak curry leaves in hot water for a few hours and drink the concoction with a spoonful of honey added to it.
It eases the digestive tract and allows easier motion of stools. To cure nausea, brewing a curry leaf tea helps; and to cure nausea brought on by pregnancy, one can drink a mixture of 1 teaspoon curry leaves juice with 2 teaspoons lime juice and 1 teaspoon sugar every morning.
Curry leaves boiled in milk are applied on a heat rash or a mild skin infection. Grounding them into a paste with some turmeric and applying on acne-infected skin for a few days will give a glowing, clear skin. Curry leaves boiled with coconut oil can be an effective hair darkening agent with minimum damage and maximum benefit to graying or thinning hair.
The myriad uses of curry leaves make it a good idea to grow it in a small pot at home. All it needs is some watering during a dry spell and some sunshine during cold months. It can withstand a small amount of frost and needs moderate light and warmth to grow.
A small pot with these aromatic leaves can be kept in a partially indoors area (like a verandah), to stave off insects etc too, as well as impart a fresh aroma to the area.