By Suzuki Yukino
Local people who have come to buy bread and the store owner are happily talking at the Marufuku Farm bakery. Behind them, two plastic greenhouses stand side by side. This is exactly where the curry leaves are grown. Inside the plastic greenhouses are not only curry leaves, but also spearmint, moringa, ylang-ylang, and many other herbs.
“I encountered curry leaves,” Mr. kusunose said while reminiscing about his past with nostalgia. “When someone gave them to me by coincidence on the tenth anniversary starting herb farm since 1985.”
“Curry leaves are not used as a main ingredient, but for some dishes, it is indispensable.”
Currently, with the gradual increase in popularity of South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines around the world, the demand for curry leaves is also increasing, but people in Japan are still not familiar with it. Marufuku Farm in Kochi City is not only the place that grows curry leaves but is also helping to popularize herbs including curry leaves throughout Japan.
Curry leaves are an herb that grows in warm regions. In Okinawa, it is not harvested in winter, so more people buy it from Marufuku Farm. Marufuku Farm harvests the herb all year round, with the new leaves sprouting in spring around May and reaching their peak growth in October.
Marufuku Farm limits the amount of curry leaves they sell to 500 grams per order, which is enough to fill both hands.
“Why? Because we want you to use the curry leaves when it is fresh and fragrant.”, Mr. Kusunose said.
Curry leaves are a difficult herb for the average person to master, and even those who are familiar with curry leaves use them only about twice a month at most. That is why many people do not know about it.
“However, curry leaves are an indispensable herb, and having them in a dish is completely different from not having them.”
Maruhuku farm have delivered curry leaves to 50 to 60 stores so far, and now they are delivering curry leaves to about 20 shops. There are a few shops in Kochi that sell curry leaves, and the ones that regularly deliver Marufuku Farm’s curry leaves are called “Sabitosusu” and “Kiro”.
Sabitosusu uses the curry leaves in tempering to finish the curry and rice. Tempering is a method of frying spices in oil to maximize the aroma of the curry leaves. Curry leaves are also used as a spice by tearing and adding them to curry and rice. By putting curry leaves in curry and rice, it becomes an authentic at once. Herbs such as curry leaves are often humbled by the difficulty of using them in everyday cooking, but tempering is not a difficult method and can be attempted by general people. Just sprinkle tempered curry leaves as a final touch to curry and rice that a lot of Japanese people usually make with roux, and regular curry and rice at home will be transformed into an authentic one.
At Sabitosusu, curry leaves are used in more than half of the dishes. There is only one restaurant in Nankoku City now, but currently working hard to prepare for the opening of a second restaurant in Aki City. In addition, participating in events and creating exciting spaces through food and manufacturing are main activity. Sabiitosusu is intended to be a place where people can come to be inspired and heal their daily fatigue. Before using curry leaves at home, it might be a good idea to stop by Sabitosusu to taste the curry leaves.
Today, Marufuku Farm continues to grow herbs such as curry leaves without using pesticides or fertilizers under the goal of “farming with the power of nature.
“Making many people’s lives more beautiful through herbs.”
Kochi Prefecture, where curry leaves are produced, is an environment where herbs can be seen, touched, eaten and enjoyed. The curry leaves are not playing a leading role in many cases now, but it will be gradually gaining popularity and adding color to the dining table in Kochi.
Sabitosusu: 632-19, Tatenda, Nankoku City, Kochi Prefecture