Karapincha (Murraya koengii) | Sunday Observer

Karapincha (Murraya koengii)

Karapincha is the small, green leaf which is used to flavour our food and is made into broths or sambols. Today, let us learn more about this leaf which makes our food tasty.

Different names

The scientific name is Murraya koengii and it is taken from a Professor of Medicine at the University of Gottingen, Germany named Johann Andreas Murray who also studied Botany and was a herbalist as well. Karapincha is also called karuveppilai, sweet neem, kadi pattu and curry vepillai.

Karapincha flowers and berries

The flowers are small, delicate and very fragrant. The berries are small and red. They turn black when ripe and can be eaten but the seeds are said to be toxic. It is best to eat the pulp of the berries and avoid eating the seeds.

 

The Karapincha tree

 

Also known as the curry tree or curry leaf tree is a native of India and grows in sub tropical and tropical countries including Sri Lanka and Thailand. It generally grows to a height of 13-20 feet. The trunk’s diameter is around 16 inches. There are karapincha trees which are much bigger too.

Health and  medicinal benefits

Karapincha or curry leaves are packed with carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, phosperous, iron and vitamins C, A, B and E. These leaves help the heart to function better, fights infection, helps control diabetes, improves digestion, stops diarrohea and helps to control the graying of hair. Karapincha is also widely used in Ayurvedic medicine.

 

Rampe (Pandanus)

We all know rampe as it is used daily in Sri Lankan homes to flavour curries along with karapincha (curry leaves). A strip or two of rampe is added to the pot of rice for flavour too.

Rampe or pandanus is cultivated for its fragrant leaves which greatly flavor food. The scientific name is panadnus amaryfollius and the plant belongs to the screw pine genus. The first plants are said to have been discovered in the Moluccas islands.

Today, rampe is grown widely in South - East Asia, South Asia and Western New Guinea. As in Sri Lanka virtually every home garden in Southern India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have rampe or pandanus growing in them.

Pandanus is the French name for rampe. In Tamil it is ramba and in Thai it is bai toey. Ambrella tree, screw pine and screw tree are the rampe plant’s English names. The name screwpine was given by English traders who came to Asia. Rampe or pandanus is known as ketaki in Bangladesh.

The rampe plant grows in two ways. If left undisturbed it will grow into a large tree. It will have unbranched , palm like stems and large leaves of around two metres. If the leaves are cut often then it will grow into a small, shrub like plant.

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand rampe or pandanus leaves are pounded or strained or blended with a little water to give flavour and colour to cakes and sweets. In Thailand, where rampe is known as bai toey, pieces of marinated chicken are enclosed in bai toey leaves and are grilled or deep fried. The rampe adds a great deal of flavour to the chicken.

In South-East Asia rampe leaves are made into containers for sweets and cakes. Different varieties of pandanus have different flavours and there are over 700 types of pandanus. Some varieties can be eaten. The most fragrant varieties come from South East Asia and Sri Lanka.

The rampe leaf is long, thin and narrow and is sold fresh, frozen, dried or powdered. The fragrance of the dried leaves is much less than that of the fresh leaves.

 

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