Curry leaves are not simply 'curry leaves'

Read below a short note on a use of curry leaf as an antioxidant while preparing banana chips. The chip very easily become rancid when prepared in coconut oil. Curry leaf powder help delaying rancidity and increase the shelf life of chips.

Anything, which is thrown out after use, is described as 'curry leaf' in Malayalam language. This is because we have accepted that the curry leaf is to be removed from the curry before we start eating it. But curry leaf is not such a worthless stuff, it is now well accepted as a nutritious item. It has been proved that it can control cholesterol. It is scientifically known as Murraya koenigii, a tropical to sub tropical tree in the Rutaceae family which is a native to India.

The leaves of Murraya koenigii has medicinal values and are used as a herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Their properties include much value as an anti-diabetic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, anti-hypercholesterolemic etc. Curry leaves are also known to be good for hair for keeping it healthy and long. They also contain iron.

The history of curry leaves dates back to the ancient period. Since curry leaves are grown in India, it is exported from here to different parts of the world. It is basically used as a spice and is an aromatic deciduous tree which is 5 meters tall and fifteen to forty centimeters in diameter. This tree is mainly cultivated in homesteads, largely on a scale of plantation.

Now a recent study shows that it could be used to keep banana chips fresh for more days. Everybody likes fresh banana chips, even the smell of its preparation will be attracting its lovers. The characteristic flavour and taste of this fried in coconut oil appeal food lovers all over the country and even outside. But unfortunately this flavour and taste lasts only for a very limited days. Rancidity is the major problem in the storage of banana chips.

Curry leaf is a natural antioxidant which is found to be very useful in delaying rancidity, a scientific research confirms. Rancidity is because of oxidation of the oil used for frying chips. Addition of antioxidants is effective in retarding the oxidation process. Synthetic antioxidants used while frying have been reported to be having toxicological effects. Because of this interested researchers worked on it to find out safe antioxidants based on natural extracts from plants.

This inquiry ended up with the addition of dried curry leaf powder to the oil used for frying chips. It is the researchers at the Department of Processing Technology of the College of Agriculture, Vellayani, Thiruvananthapuram who did the work successfully.

They added oven-dried and ground curry leaf powder to the unrefined coconut oil at smoke point of 165 degrees Celsius. Chips prepared by this method had least oil uptake and highest integrity. This research could establish that the natural curry leaf is better than sodium ascorbate and tocopherol acetate, the commonly used commercial antioxidants.

The research also showed that the rancidity could be delayed by modifying the packing method. The commonly used thin plastic pouches are to be replaced with laminated pouches while packing. Chips prepared adding curry leaf powder and packed in laminated pouches will keep off the rancidity and remain fresh for about three months.

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