Wednesday, 3 September 2014

an exploration: our malaysian garden

Well, we're now in Malaysia!

It has been nearly 5 years since my last visit. But home always feels like home.

The day after my return, my dad took me for a tour around our garden, complete with commentary. Some things have changed, some things stay the same. I enjoyed re-acquainting myself with the old, and discovering the new.

The first stop was the mulberry plant. Mulberry fruits are quite sour, and my parents tend to either make a fermented drink out of them, or throw a few into a mixed fruit smoothie for a nice hint of tartness.

A mulberry fruit.

Bird's eye chilli probably needs no introduction. With its fragrant, intense heat, these little chillies are a case of good things coming in small packages.

Bird's eye chilli, commonly known as cili padi in Malaysia.

We also have a kaffir lime tree. Though I had been oblivious for a long time, apparently this name has politically incorrect connotations in some parts of the world, so an alternative name is makrut lime. My mum makes an awesome salad and she often includes thinly sliced lime leaves for their sharp, distinctive flavour. I've also used it a few times in recipes that have featured on this blog, and my favourite original creation is this tofu dish.

Makrut lime (more commonly known as Kaffir lime).

Pandanus shrubs (also known as screw pine) thrive in the garden. Pandan leaves, which impart a gentle mellowness to dishes, are commonly used in various Southeast Asian desserts. Here is a simple pandan beverage you can try, if you are after something delightfully easy and thirst-quenching.

Pandan plants.

Then there's what we call Pegaga growing as ground cover. It is otherwise known as Centella or Gotu Kola and is purported to have excellent health benefits. It can be blended to make a refreshing drink, and it is also often sliced and thrown into salads.

Pegaga, aka Gotu Kola or Centella Asiatica.

Last but not least, here is the pretty blue pea flower. It has the rather cheeky scientific name of Clitoria Ternatea, referring to the flower's resemblance to a clitoris. Questionable naming conventions aside, the flower yields a gorgeous blue dye, so it is the perfect natural ingredient to colour rice for sweet glutinous rice cake desserts, as well as the savoury dish called Nasi Kerabu.

Blue/butterfly pea flower.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of our garden in Malaysia - there are many more plants that I have yet to mention here, but I think I'll have to leave them for another time. I might do a post on our garden herbs in the future, once I learn more about them via my parents' wealth of knowledge, so watch this space.

10 comments:

  1. How lovely! It all looks so fertile.

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    1. Yeah, I think my parents do a good job to keep them thriving!

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  2. Beautifully lush and green. I love the tropics :)

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    1. It's certainly very green around here! But it also comes with very hot weather, and thunderstorms. ;)

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  3. Wow, that is such a green garden :) I laughed because my parents have a huge mulberry tree to, but they're in Melbourne, which is such a different climate. They don't get a lot of mulberries from it, maybe because it's so cold.

    Love the kaffir limes and birdseye chillies :) Have a great trip.

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    1. I was actually surprised that my parents had a mulberry tree, I never thought of mulberries as being suited for the tropical climate!

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  4. Oh wow, enjoy being home. Your parents' garden is amazing!

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  5. how tropical, lush and green your parents' garden is. so different from my parents' vegie garden!

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    1. I bet your parents' vegie garden is glorious in a different way, too!

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