“Very Curry” Christmas– by Dharma




I emigrated to the US in 1975.

The  “Currys” emigrated in 1982 (illegally, Don’t tell Trump). and have been with us since then on the basis of  “The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) “. Two of them are 35 years old (Scientific nameHelichrysum italicum)

They go on summer vacation outside to the patio and invited indoors for winter. On  Dec 25th 2017, the temp outside was about 20F (about minus 6C)!!  Inside it was about a balmy 72F/20C.  2.5 inches of snow on the ground ! (can see the snow out of the window on the picture)

Before they come inside in fall / Autumn, they get a good shower including insecticidal soap. This is for prophylaxis.   Regular insecticides are toxic to us. They are vulnerable to spider mites and scale indoors.  In spring they are re pottedonce in 2 or 3 yrs.

They are very hardy. Even if they shed all the leaves indoors, they will bounce back in spring, much to our delight. One spring we threw out a plant which appeared dead in the pot. But, lo and behold, like the Phoenix,  when it got warmer it started sprouting tender leaves!  A “hard to kill” plant.

We have propagated many new plants arising from the roots. Very limited success with seed. We usually prune out flowers so that all the energy goes to foliage production. The flowers also have the characteristic aroma. We distribute daughter plants and leaves to  family and friends. Sometimes the distributed plants die. We think it is not due to lack of care but they miss our tender loving touch and voice Without that, they get depressed and commit suicide!!~

It is nice to be able to pluck fresh leaves for cooking from the adjoining room or patio! The leaves add flavour to any curry, even the lowly “Pol Sambol” takes on another dimension!!

We in the temperate zone make so much fuss to keep them going. While I was in Florida, I found at Wimal’s, Devacaanthan’s and Johnpulle’s  they have Curry trees and daughter plants growing around the mother like weeds. Reminds me of our home in  ChavakachcheriSL. Sam has a nice bushy pot for easy access on his patio. Sam is a good cook, I tasted his egg plant ( brinjal /obergene) curry, it was very good.

Curry tree – Wikipedia (plus)



The curry tree (Murraya koenigii,  Karapincha (S) Karuverpillai (T) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae (the rue family, which includes rue, citrus, and satinwood), which is native to India and SriLanka. Its leaves are used in many dishes in India, Sri Lanka, and neighbouring countries.

31 thoughts on ““Very Curry” Christmas– by Dharma”

  1. Thank you Dharma for the interesting story of how the curry plant got to USA.Fortunately for us we can purchase these karapincha(s) Karuvapooillai(T) here in NZ and they all come from Fiji.Your tree is in good nick due to your TLC.
    Best wishes to you ,your family and the much loved tree!
    Happy New year.We are in Sydney for the festive season and the New year.Eddie.


    1. Thanks Seelan.We are in Glebe.I am here till the 2 nd.Shall get in touch if I can make it.If I do not please accept my warmest wishes to you and your family and for a new year wish for continuing good health.Eddie.


  2. Dear Dharma,
    My Curry plant was smuggled into Australia by an 80 year old grand mother in the early 70’s from Malaysia ( please don’t tell Trump – he might tell our prime minister). Before that, the curry plants available in Australia were from Fiji. They didn’t have the nice smell & flavor. One could smell the Malaysian curry leaves at a distance!!
    We liked the plant so much that when we sold the house during winter 1986, I instructed the Lawyer to include a clause in the contract that we will come back with a gardener to remove the tree in summer. The purchaser of the house & the lawyer were astonished. Anyway,5 months later, we managed to bring it to the new house in a truck & planted it in this sandy soil with lot of preparation. We are still enjoying the end result. Many of our friends now have off springs of our Malaysian Curry plant .
    Like you, we decorate the curry plant & the adjoining plants during Christmas time with 12 volts fairy lights !!!
    End of story


    1. P.S:(1) I can see snow through the window. What happened to the Twin engine Aero plane you had at your backyard which I saw about 35 years ago when I came to your place.

      (2)In Australia we have our BBQ outside, but your BBQ was indoor- in the Lounge/dining area. Is it still there? I remember cooking “chicken satay”


      1. Seelan, and Eddie,
        I deleted contact info comment from Seelan. If Eddie needs it please contact me via EMail
        Thanks, Sam


      2. Yes Seelan, our mouths water when we think of the Satay you made. My Kids and family remember that well. We removed the indoor BBQ because in spite of the powerful fan, the smell sticks around gets attached to furniture and clothing. The planes you were referring to belong to neighbors. We are the “poor neighbors”. I did stick to flying model planes. Yet to try the Quadricopters. By the way the tittle of my original comment should be “A very merry curry Christmas”


    2. Dear Seelan
      All of you are talking about the K pants you have. It is making me feel very jealous as that is something I have tried many times with no success. After reading all the comments I feel I need one right now. Praxy


  3. Interesting to note what great care you take over your Curry plant. I too repot some of the shoots coming through and give it to my friends. Our curry plant gets too big in our sub-tropical climate and I give it a sharp prune every couple of years to keep its growth under control.

    I got 2 varieties of Bananas, one Kolikuttu type and other Ash Plantain for cooking. I had to cover Kolikottu fruits with hessian fabric to prevent fruit bats having a feed before me !

    Happy gardening !


  4. Hi Abey, You are lucky to grow Kolikuttu and Ash plantains at home.Yes,Brisbane weather is very much like Sri Lanka weather.Have you got Gotukola?Eddie.


  5. Dear Dharma, Eddie and Seelan,
    I envy all of you for having a Karapincha plant at home. Sam I saw your K plant when we visited you and it was so nice to see such a bushy plant. I have tried ,many times to smuggle one ( Don’t tell Trump in case she tells Theresa May !!!! ) and grow but it failed. I had them inside the house. At the beginning of this year when we went to see Wimal and Iranthie I smuggled two plants, ( don’t tell Trump…. ) they survived for 6 months and I think I over fed them with Miracle Grow fertiliser and both died. Early this month I got some K seeds from SL but have not potted them yet. Hope I will have success. On Amazon Prime they were selling 6 seeds for £6 plus postage but no guarantee they will sprout, and a slightly big plant for £30 .I did not want to spend that much of money on a K plant when I know how cheap they are in SL. Where we are here in Eckington it is extremely difficult to find K and in Sheffield if we go there to Indian shops, they do not have them. Oh I would love to have my own K plant so that I can pluck leaves for curries.

    I have read on You tube how to grow K plants from cuttings but do not have cuttings. If any of you have propagated K plant from cuttings please let me know how to do it as the method mentioned on YouTube is the only one I know…. may be next time I will bring a cutting, but please let me know what sort of cuttings I should brig. Thanks. Praxy


  6. Yes Eddie, I had Gotukola growing in a container but all died due to lack of water while we were away. Large leaf variety grows like a weed but not as tasty in a salad.

    I got an interesting story about Gotukola. These plants are sold in nurseries here with instructions “do not eat more than 2 leaves a day” ha ha !!! When I enquired they said that it had harmful alkaloids if taken excessive amounts. Load of BS I think !

    You may have come across Gotukola tablets in pharmacies along with Ginger, Turmeric capsules and even the humble coconut is having a resurgence of interest as having health benefits.


  7. Dharma it an interesting story about the Karapincha – Curry leaves plant. We do have a plant that is many many years old. We also have a Gotukola plants growing in a pot. Smuggled fromTalawakele Sri Lanka.The gotukola pot is kept outside and amazingly springs back to life in the Spring time , pardon the pun.
    My grand daughters like eating Gotukola , plucking them right off the plant. In the summer we we eat Gotukola sambol quite often . Piching is an expert at making a very tasty gotukola sambol. It is definitely more than two leaves , perhaps a couple of hundred leaves. Abey it proves that the alkaloids are not harmful and you are right it is a bunch of baloney.
    Two days ago we were at the Conservatory ( huge green house ) in Washington DC admiring the exotic plants and flowers from around the world. It was 21 degrees F outside and it was a balmy 75- 80 degrees inside the conservatory depending which section you were in. My 4 year old grand daughter spotted Gotukola growing around some trees and shouted “look ! I see Gotukola “. The people around us did not have any clue as to what we were talking about. We were quite amused that she spotted it and we did not see it. Then again she was closer to the ground and we were looking at only things closer to our eye level.



    1. Dear Nisantha,
      Your name is added on to the list of people I envy for owning K plants. Please give me details of how you managed to grow one to the present size. Dharma you also please give me in detail what exactly you did to bring up that plant to the present size..I need every detail from the time you smuggled the plant….as I am do so next time visit SL. In the meantime I will plant the seeds and see what happens. Praxy


  8. Hi Praxy,
    Just a bit of srilankan local knowledge. The karapincha plant is very difficult to grow from seeds. Do not waste your time buying the seeds. The only way they grow in SL from seeds is if they from bird droppings. Try and get a seedling from an existing mother plant. Try and smuggle a plant either from SL or beg borrow or steal from a friend.It certainly makes the curries out of this world when you add fresh green Karapincha leaves. Good luck


    1. Dear Annesley
      🙏 Thank you for that info. I will take you advice and try to bring ☝️ one next time Ibam
      In SL .After reading all the comments I feel Like need one desperately . Yes I like the smell and the flavour it adds on to curries especially when used for tempering. Praxy


  9. Well my dear guys and Praxy !

    Here is my ‘take ‘ on the subject !

    Thank you Dharma for starting off this discussion on Curry Christmas !!

    Love the photo of the very healthy looking Karapincha plant indoors with christmas decorations, bougainvillia bloom next to it, indoors ,with the snow outside .

    What a lovely discussion on the good old Karapincha plant .


    Seelan- your story of how you had your precious Karapincha plant in the Sale Conditions of the Property- takes the cake !
    I did see it on your garden pics some time back on the blog .

    Yes- I have seen both these growing in abundance at my friend’s place in Brisbane some yrs back , and she even had papaw tree with fruit- that I ate while I was there ( march 1998 )

    Nisantha- imagine the little one seeing the Gotukola plant in the indoor garden- and like you say- she is a lot closer to the ground than Seeya !

    Sam and Wimal – will be looking fwd to some pol sambol with Karapincha when I visit both of you in in Florida in few wks .

    Some of my SL friends in Phoenix , AZ ( Drs . Pat and Dudley Halpe ) also have a nice big K’ tree growing in their back yard .

    Some folks in Canada, do grow it indoors .
    Since I leave the house rather cold at 57 deg F when I a m away for 8 wks in the winter, I cannot grow this at home .

    However, when I go to Toronto/ Mississauga area , I buy a whole lot of fresh bundles from the Indian store, it, wash and freeze them, and they are as good as they get, at least for me .

    My sons dont like to eat the K leaves and leave it behind on their plates , and this mom- eats it before the left over K leaves get pitched out to the compost !!!

    I am a BIG fan of Karapincha – so I love all your stories .

    Great to know, that these great doctors have now morphed into REAL gardeners .
    I may have lived in Canada since 1973- but, I am as Asian as it gets, when it comes to FOOD !

    Thanks a lot for the ‘new insight ‘ into an old favourite among all of us Asians .



    1. Dear 🦅D
      Yes I too love K and I love the discussion started by Dharma on its origin and how he managed to grow it to its present height. Seeing snow outside his house and the K plant thriving indoors had given me a lot of encouragement to grow one again as the weather here is not as bad as where Dharma lives . Praxy


  10. Here is my 2cts worth specially for Praxy and Deepthie,

    We tried seeds from our plants, one or two germinated and grew up. As Annesley said its not worth the time and energy.

    Best way to propergate is from daughter plants popping up around the mother plant. I usually allow them to grow to about 8 inches and then i dig down the soil to identify the root from which the daughter is arising from and with a sharp knife, i cut about 1/4th the diameter of the root and put the soil back. After about 2 wks I cut it down to 1/2 the diameter and another 2 weeks or so and all the way. This is like cutting the umbilical cord in stages allowing the daughter to develop its own sustaining roots. Then you can transplant the plant trying to keep the soil around it’s roots intact. Then on it’s the adoptive parent’s TLC. I think they like acidic fertilizers. Small doses of Blood meal can promote foliage production, if nitrogen is lacking. For whatever it’s worth we add crushed cleaned egg shells to the soil for Ca. Use good quality potting soil.To acidify we add small quantities of spent coffee and tea leaves. Use sparingly, if not you can kill the plant. Good sunlight and diurnal temperature and light variation simulate their natural habitat.

    I am convinced that minor trauma to the mother plant’s roots, like digging around mother plant with a garden fork, stimulates production of daughter plants.(” Believe it or not!! “)

    When we brought daughter plants from SL, Y’s uncle gave root cuttings about 6 inches long and 1-2mm diameter, few of them sprouted plants which we gave to friends.

    I have not tried stem cuttings. We have enough daughter plants from roots.

    One more thing, if you find the plant appearing dead, do not discard. keep them for 1-2 months before declaring them dead. My daughters K plant about 2ft tall got unintentionally left out and sustained extensive frost damage, all the leaves blackened and fell off. It appeared totally dead. Even when the bark was scratched, there was no green. We decided not throw it out and it paid off. New shoots were arising from root area! about 2 mo later!

    Wish you very merry more Karapinchas


    An SL friend here in Chicago has a growing stock of Gotukola. He gave me some, but perished due to indecent exposure, (don’t let your imagination run riot) I mean exposure to freezing temperature! You can buy Gotukola in some SL shops in Toronto. Not sure where they come from. I am told They get air shipments of vegetables from SL They can grow them in Toronto in summer months.


    1. Dear Dharma
      I really appreciate the detailed advice you have given .I will follow your instructions next time I bring one 🌿🌿🌿🌿from 🇱🇰 Sri Lanka. Reading the information given by you I think I should have waited a little longer without throwing the two plants I brought from Wimal place. 🙁🙁I thought they were dead and threw them away as they were on the window sill. Thank you once again and wish you and your family a happy healthy New Year. Praxy


    2. HI Dharma !
      I award you The Master Gardener Certificate !!!!

      Thanks for the new info on propogation of the K plant
      .This is actually called Root Pruning and makes the plant put out more healthy roots .
      This is done, when plant is pot bound , before it is transferred to the next larger sized pot.

      I might try to get some nice big stems with leaves, from a SL/ Indian grocery store, and try half of the stems to root it in water , and the balance to root in good potting soil .
      Of course, it will have to be done once I return from AZ in April .

      Now, I am all interested in growing a K plant —

      Keep it up everybody and grow more Gotukola, and Karapincha as indoor plants in snowy climes .

      Hurrah for the Web Knowledge Channel !

      Happy Karapincha New Year 2018- and lets talk more about this when we meet in Beruwala- 2018 !


    1. I am at the moment in Sri Lanka and planning to have dinner at the ‘Curry Leaf’ Restaurant tonight.

      I thought I must add a Pinchak to the blog about curry leaf.

      The portuguese came to Sri Lanka In 1505 in search of spices especially cinnamon, led by Lorenzo De Almeida.

      By chance they came across Curry leaf they called Folha de curry. They relished it and has been using ever since

      Continue the great conversation about Curry Leaf.

      Wishing the very best to my batch mates in the New Year,



      1. HI Esiri

        When you are at the Curry Leaf Restaurant in SL , think of all of us here in America, who are salivating for karapincha .!!

        Peeching just sent me some real old photos of me, Chandrika and you, taken at Peeching/ Nisantha’s home, some 20 yrs ago or so , when I used to come to Pittsburgh for the SL/ Tamily NYear Celebrations .
        Very nostalgic for sure to see these old photos .
        Deepthie .


      2. Dear Esiri
        Enjoy yourCurry Leaf meal. I love that place and have always enjoyed the meals there. We are of course here in the cold and will prepare milk rice fir tomorrow 1st of the year. All the bed fir 2018z. Praxy


    2. Dear Sree,

      The curry leaf tree at Devacanthan’s house must be amazing at 18 feet.Coming from you I know that it is not a “Tall Story”.Just Kidding!

      Wishing you and family the very best in the New Year.


  11. Dear Praxy and Deepthie.

    Your contributions to the blog are immensely appreciated. You keep the conversation alive , charming and just wonderful.I wish both of your families a fantastic a New Year.

    By the way the name of our friend is Piching.Hope she won’t peed off by Deepthie spelling of her name as Peeching!.Just kidding as I always do.No offense.

    With love and regards,



    1. Thanks Esiri for the correct spelling !
      I was never sure of it – as I always called her ‘ Peecha ‘ in a very affectionate way .— now I know and will try to Remember !!! !

      Glad you like the way Praxy and I keep up the interest in the blog , and thank you for your kind words .
      I only wish more would write/ contribute —

      Enjoy your Curry in a Hurry !!!

      Keep Singing and Sing Away 2018 !!!

      Happy New Year -2018 . and see you and Chandrika in Beruwala .



  12. Happy New year to all of you wonderful gardeners!! Curry in a Hurry is an appropriate name for the famous aromatic karapincha leaf. All the best Selva


    1. Hello Selva,

      Nice to see your good wishes.Myself and Chandrika wish you and family an amazing New Year.I did try to get through to you during Christmas without success.

      We are enjoying great weather in Sri Lanka.

      I am writing this in a ‘Hurry’.

      With very best regards,



    2. Hey My dear Selva
      Happy New Year to The Richards Clan !!

      Good to see you writing to the blog – I thought you fell off the planet !
      2018– YOUR turn to send some fun stuff to the Blog !


  13. Hi all to all Batch-mates, Wishing you all a happy and enjoyable new year 2018.
    Indragee AMARASINGHE.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: