We are fortunate to have access to the Wake Forest Herb Fest which is put on each year in April and have gone and bought herbs and plants the past three of them. Next year’s herb fest will celebrate the 10th annual from April 17th-26th, 2009 and is held in Festival Park, Wake Forest, NC. One of the interesting things about herb fest is that beyond just culinary herbs they also sell some medicinal herbs as well. One of the interesting medicinal plants for sale is the curry plant, it really has an amazing smell too. Every time I walk by the plant you can smell the deep rich curry scent. This plant shown above is into it’s second year, as it was planted in the spring of 2007.
This plant is not to be confused with the culinary preparation, as curry is actually a blend of many different herbs. The herbs used in real curry vary from region to region, and best known for its roots in Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Nepali, Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, and other South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines.
The most useful derivitive of the plant is the essential oil that is pressed out of the leaves and is also known as Helichrysum oil, as the scientific name for the plant is Helichrysum italicum. According to Mountain Valley Growersweb site; “Helichrysum oil has recently been reinvestigated as a medicinal herb and is said to to be good for bruises and varicose veins. But, you will probably have to make your own oil or infusion as there is very little oil commercially available which tends to make it a bit pricey”.
I have yet to actually do anything with the curry plant, but I understand that the leaves can be crushed into a mayonnaise preparation such as an aioli or stuffed into the cavity of a chicken or other poultry, but it culinary uses are very limited. I do know that when I come near the plant or touch it I will smell like an Indian restaurant for a few minutes.