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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gargantuan Curry Leaf?

The average Indian curry isn't really a curry, at least not in South India, without having a requisite amount of the ubiquitous curry leaf. I remember being back in Kerala for the holidays, hearing my mother call out to me to fetch her a handful of curry leaves, and all I had to do was take a few steps into the garden, reach down to one of the waist-high saplings and carry out her request. However, I must say that I use, or at least intended to use "ubiquitous" sparingly, mostly because while a staple of the diet and found pretty much everywhere, the curry tree is notoriously delicate, or at the very least, extremely stubborn. I've tried to delicately transfer saplings to places where I thought they would be better off, but it's like this plant always grows where it decides to, and nowhere else.

However, I began noticing how sometimes at the local vegetables shops and carts, they usually gave you a handful of curry leaves for free with purchases (they used to, anyway), but that each time, the leaves seemed to vary slightly in shape, not so much as to arouse suspicion of any foul play, but more from the point of view of the various mutations possible, enlargement in physical stature being one of them. Here is an example of what I would refer to as the average-sized curry leaf, what you normally get to see in stores, nothing out of the ordinary. A true connoisseur, not me I assure you, can probably tell you what the plant's primary nutrient sources were and how they have affected the biochemical composition of this plant. But, in the fact is, even though I water it and offer some kitchen vegetable wastes and do a little onsite composting if I can, it seems to have responded with some great foliage, if only a knee-high sapling at the moment.



But not more than 15 feet away, is another curry leaf sapling, the older of these two, and before I show you how big its leaves are, I just wanted to point out that apart from the earlier mentioned kitchen scraps, the occasional watering with the leftover tea leaves still in the pot, and a little urea courtesy of my landlord's tips for the garden, based on his vast years of experience in the Forest Department, and working on a government coffee plantation as part of his long and eventful career. That's all I've added. No hormones. No miracle growth formula. Not even some sacred chant and/or ritual to make them become the size they have. For your convenience, I've included a shot of my left hand, as a guide, if that is helpful at all. If not, simply attempt to recall that scene from the first Austin Powers movie where Austin reveals his fear for only two things in the world, nuclear war, and "carnies" with their "small hands". Yes, I've got small hands too. So really, to others as well, or in particular I should say, it should just make this example of giant curry leaf seem that much larger than it really is.




As you can see, the shape of the leaves has been altered, from the usually somewhat demure rhomboid-with-diagonal-vein-running-through-it to some kind of, dare I say it, "overweight" leaf. Of course, weight isn't an issue here at all, but apart from being some kind of mutation, or response to something that I have added to the soil, or maybe something else entirely, I hope you agree with me that "Exhibit B," the Franken-Curry-Leaf, is really looking to take over the world, or so it appears.
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