Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Curry Plant - Herb of the Week

Curry plant is a curious and interesting little herb that may not be in the top five or ten choices on your herb wish list but definitely deserves your consideration.

Helichrysum italicum or curry plant the Herb of the Week

This tender perennial will grow well outdoors, it does best in U.S. zones 8 to 11. It can't tolerate a hard frost so grow as an annual above zone 8. It prefers soil that drains well, full sun and warm conditions. It's a perfect choice for intermittent drought prone areas or for a xeriscaped (low water) garden. If you have a spot behind a shed or garage that tends to reject your efforts in planting, curry plant may be a good choice there, too. It performs well in poor soil and isn't finicky about niceties like pH (although keeping things on the neutral side wouldn't hurt). Because it's such a good sport about water, it doesn't require mulching. It's also a natural pest repellent. Bugs tend to avoid it, and deer hate it. I grew it in a container with a coleus, as I picked mine up late in the season.  It wintered over nicely and is still flourishing in the container this summer. I originally got it to go in the rather dry side yard, but never actually put it in the ground.  Next year I think I will get several and use it as filler between perennials along with the darker coleus we put in that garden.

Growing to a height of about 30 inches or so, curry plant looks like a cross between lavender and rosemary. It has soft, gray-green foliage and produces small yellow flowers. It may require staking, especially in a windy location or a spot that sees a lot of foot traffic like a tree lawn.

Uses for Curry Plant

Curry plant is often promoted as an aromatic herb. Its common name derives from its scent, which can smell like curry. (As most of you know, curry is actually a blend of a variety of different spices that can vary from country to country and region to region, not the offspring of a particular plant.) When placed along a walkway, the aroma can be unexpected and enticing. To some folks, curry plant doesn't smell as much like curry as something else -- maple syrup. Regardless of how you interpret the aroma, it has a somewhat sweet, spicy and flowery note that seems at home with both sweet and savory fare.

I mention this because curry plant is sometimes maligned as pretty useless in the kitchen because it has a mild flavor. Much of its aroma is lost in cooking. As with pineapple sage, I think people expect curry plant to have more culinary power because it smells so nice. Even though curry plant isn't the flavor powerhouse promised by its complex and very compelling scent, it is still useful in the kitchen. Actually, there are a lot of uses for curry plant: Chopped fine it compliments mild dishes and ingredients like eggs, yogurt, mild cheeses and even fish. Chiffonade and add to chicken salad or egg salad. It enhances herb vinegar blends and dressings made with vinegar and makes a nice garnish, too. The gray/green foliage holds color when dried making it a nice addition to an herb wreath, swag or even potpourri.  The curry plant will look and smell nice there as well.

Growing Curry Plant

This useful little herb can be propagated from seed or cuttings, and the plant itself will survive for years in this way.  In Illinois it will not winter over, so treat it as an annual, but if you live in zones 8 to 11 it should stay around for at least 5 years before needing replacement.  It tends to get rangy and untidy after a while, though, and will become less productive after about the third or fourth year.

Young plants make unique gifts. Many gardeners are unfamiliar with curry plant and are immediately drawn to its aroma and soft, elongated, gray leaves. It's adorable and unusual.

Growing Curry Plant Indoors

Curry plant makes a very nice houseplant provided you can give it plenty of sun. This plant will need supplemental light if you can't give it six to eight hours of powerful light a day. A southern exposure close to the window is ideal. I've kept a curry plant indoors, putting it outside in spring and summer.  It's refreshingly undemanding which is what I require from an indoor plant. We kept it near the rosemary in the kitchen and the spicy aroma was nice in the bland landscape of winter in Illinois. When growing in a pot, make sure to add some sand to the soil for good drainage, and water it sparingly.


“Curried” Vegetable Dip

1/2 cup sour cream.
1/4 cup mayonnaise.
3 oz cream cheese at room temperature.
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste.
1 teaspoon fresh chopped curry plant leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped peeled and seeded cucumber
1 scallion, trimmed and finely chopped


Whisk together all ingredients except celery, cucumber, and scallion until smooth, then stir in vegetables.  Serve cold with mixed vegetables.

“Curried” Deviled Eggs

I have a tendency to experiment with deviled egg recipes on a regular basis.  The blank pallet of a stuffed egg lends itself to many herb combinations.  Try this one the next time you make too many hard boiled eggs.

8 large eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbls Dijon mustard
1 Tbls chopped fresh chives
1 Tbls fresh curry plant leaves, chopped fine
1/2 Tbls chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper
Sprigs of herbs for garnish, optional


Put eggs in a single layer in a saucepan. Pour in enough cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Bring to a full boil over high heat. Remove saucepan from heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Fill a large bowl with ice water. When eggs are done, immediately drain pan and plunge eggs into ice water. Let cool in ice bath for 2 minutes. Peel eggs carefully, keeping whites intact.

Cut eggs in half lengthwise and carefully remove yolks to a small bowl. Mash yolks with a fork until smooth. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

Using a teaspoon or a corner snipped zip lock bag, fill egg white cavities with yolk mixture. Sprinkle herb garnish over eggs, if desired. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours (garnish with herbs just before serving).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...