Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Edible Plants, Fruits and Herbs in a Foodie’s Garden

These are some the plants that I have growing in the small garden at my house. I like to cultivate herbs and other plants that I can use in my cooking. Sometimes it can very troublesome to look for these herbs or plants in the market; most of the time they are not available or already sold out.

My friend, Amy gave me this Lychee (Laichi, Scientific Name, Litchi Chinensis) tree. I have planted it in a large pot because I don’t want to expose it to too much sunlight which might kill it. It was growing real slow, so recently I added some growth enhancement fertilizer and it grew new leaves immediately. Hopefully I can get it to produce some fruits when the plant matures.

This Indonesian Avocado (Scientific Name, Persea Americana) plant was given to me by Amy too. Unfortunately, it wilted when I added too much fertilizer to the soil. Maybe I will try to plant another one again. Avocado has real creamy texture and I love to eat them with sweetened condensed milk. Avocado leaves contain persin, a toxic fatty acid. The bark and many parts of the tree is poisonous too. Therefore be careful if you have this plant at home; this poisonous substance can kill cat, dogs, goats, cattle, rabbit and horses. Some birds can die if they consume the Avocado fruits.

These are sweet potatoes (Pucuk Ubi, Scientific Name, Ipomoea batatas) leaves and are commonly stir fried with garlic. The young leaves are very crunchy and nice. This is a common meal taken by Viet Cong guerillas when they were hiding in the famous Cu Chi Tunnel in Ho Chi Minh City while fighting the US Army during the Vietnam War. I have cut away all these plant because it was growing to fast (too bushy) and even produced some starchy sweet potato tubers.

I planted this pineapple (Scientific name, Ananas Comosus) tree from one of the ripe pineapple that I bought. I am not sure if this plant will bear any fruits but I am keeping my fingers crossed. Pineapples are great addition to dessert and drinks. I love to eat curry cooked with pineapple. Thailand is one of the leading countries in pineapple production; in fact South East Asian countries occupy the top spots in the pineapple producing list.

This is a Taiwanese custard apple (Buah Nona, Scientific Name, Annona Reticulata) tree. It is really tall and skinny, just like me but have not bear any fruits yet. I was told that the fruit is sweet and quite large in size. Look like I have to add more fertilizer to make it flower and bear fruits. I was told that the leaves of custard apple can be used to fight cancers and tumours.

I think this is a ciku (Sapodilla, Scientific Name; Manilkara zapota) tree that I planted from the seed. Well, I have to just wait and see what type of fruits it will bear when it start to flower.

I have some ginger (Scientific name, Zingiber Officinale) sitting far too long in my fridge and has grown some green leaves. Therefore I planted it in my backyard. I am not sure whether it will grow well and produce lots of ginger tuber. I have to wait and see. Apart from being commonly used in cooking, the ginger also has many medicinal properties. It is widely used to alleviate the symptoms of common cold.

Serai (lemongrass, Scientific Name, Cymbopogon citratus) is one of the common plants seen in many places in Malaysia. It is the most widely used ingredients in Malaysian and Asian cooking. Lemon grass oil has anti fungal properties and it is also commonly used as insect repellent. Based on a latest research, it was found that citral, a chemical found in lemongrass is effective in killing malignant cancer cells. I have seen sick dogs chewing on the lemongrass leaves and got well after that. Maybe there are other medicinal properties in lemongrass that we have yet to discover.

Whenever I have old shallots that have started growing roots, I will plant them in my garden. I will harvest the spring onions when they mature and used them to cook spring onion chicken dish.

Pandan leaves or Screwpines (Scientific Name, Pandanus amaryllifolius) are widely used to enhance the aroma in dessert and many dishes in many countries across the South East Asia. Gai ob bai toey (Pandan Chicken) is a Thai dish which the chicken is wrapped in pandan leaves and then deep fried. The colour and aroma from the pandan leaves juice are important ingredients in the famous Malaysian Chendol. Apart from being a common ingredients in food, the pandan leaves can also be used to repel cockroaches.

The Chinese called this Muat Chaw (Hokkien Name). It is suppose to be a ‘clean’ plant and some Chinese people would bring along som of the leaves with them whenever they attend a funeral. The common species of Muat Chaw would have fruits that can stick to one’s clothes. However this particular species of Muat Chaw in my garden produced beans and you can see the fully grown pods in the picture. My ex-maid told me that the beans are edible and this plant is very common in Muara Cawang, Indonesia.

‘Uncle, can I have some karuvepalli leaves’, my previous cute Indian neighbour kids used to come knocking at my gate for permission to take some of the curry leaves (Scientific Name, Murraya Koenigii) from my garden. It is actually not easy to cultivate and keep this plant healthy. I have managed to keep two plants that I took from my auntie’s house alive and well for quite some time. The leaves are used to enhance the aroma of curry dishes. It is a must in Indian cooking! The flowers of the tree are white and fragrant. The berries are edible but the seeds are poisonous.

Bird eye chilli is a must have for those who love spicy food. In Thailand it is found in virtually every dish. Due to its’ small size the Malay name of this type of chilli is known as cili padi (rice chili). Don’t let its’ size fool you, bird eye chilli is very spicy! I have seen some common bulbul bird feeding on my ripe bird eye chilli. Wow, this bird must be a chilli fan like me!

Nasi ulam is one of my favourite dishes and cekur leaves (Scientific Name, Kaempferia galanga) is the main ingredients in it. The cekur is also known as kencur, aromatic ginger or sand ginger or resurrection lily. Cekur rhizomes have earthy flavour and it is used in Nyonya salty/sweet chang (dumpling). The cukur rhizomes are effective for treatment of dog roundworm, Epstein Barr virus inhibitor, to kill mosquito’s larvae and as mosquito repellent.

The peanut (Scientific Name, Arachis Hypogea), a legume plant is actually the native to South America. Nitrogen in soil is often depleted by other plants. Peanut plants are used to put Nitrogen back into the soil, a process known as Nitrogen Fixation. Nitrogen is a very important nutrient for plants. Peanuts are used in many dishes such as in our famous Satay sauce and also as garnish for Nasi Lemak.

Sayur manis (Scientific name, Sauropus Androgynus) is also known as katuk or star gooseberry. The Chinese often call this Mani Cai and it is used to garnish Pan Mee. True to its’ name, Sayur Manis (sweet) has loads of natural sweetness in it. I like to stir fry sayur manis with eggs. This tasty vegetable can be planted using matured stems and it grows real quick. Although it is one of the few plants that contains Vitamin K, over consumption may lead to lung damage due to high concentration of alkaloid papaverine. However, papaverine is sometimes used to treat erectile dysfunction. So, you get to choose....lung damage or better sex life....he he he!

Basil (Scientific name, Ocimum Basilicum) has a strong and pungent smell. It is widely used in Italian cooking, eg in Pesto, a green Italian oil and herb sauce. There are many variety of basil such as Lemon Basil, Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Holy Basil and African Blue. Overcooking will destroy basil flavour so it is best eaten raw or added at the last moment. Basil and Oregano contain large amounts of E-beta-caryophyllene (BCP). BCP is effective in treating inflammatory bowel diseases and arthritis by blocking chemicals in the body that cause inflammation.

Kaffir lime (Scientific Name, Citrus Hystrix) leaf is the main ingredients that gave the famous Thai Tomyam Kung its’ distinct aroma. Apart from that, it is also used in Malaysian dishes such as Rendang Daging and Nyonya Otak-Otak. The kaffir lime fruit has bumpy outer skin and ‘kafer’ is actually a German name for bug. This is how this lime tree got its’ name. My daughter loves to use the fruit from my kaffir lime tree to wash her hair. The leaves from kaffir lime tree is said to be beneficial to our digestive system.

Daun Kadok (Scientific Name, Piper Sarmentosum) looks like betel leaves. It is widely used in Malaysian Nyonya dishes such as otak-otak and perut ikan. In Thai cooking it is the main ingredient for Mieng Kam, (a starter dish consist of dried prawns, peanut, toasted coconut, shallots, chilli and fish sauce) in which daun kadok is used as a wrapper. The roots of daun kadok can be chewed to stop toothache.

This is Andrographis Paniculata Nees (Snake Herb, Hempedu Bumi) tree. I have posted about the medicinal benefits of this plant at http://peteformation.blogspot.com/2008/10/herbal-cure-for-warts-andrographis.html

34 comments:

reanaclaire said...

really Pete.. what other gifts do u have next? disclose all.. hahaha... planting also u can do so well.. green fingers.. *now looking at mine* mine are all typing fingers..always typing here only... sigh...

Pete said...

Claire : Ha ha ha, I just simply throw the seeds everywhere and let it grow. Sometime I forgot what plant that I have planted. LOL!

ladyviral said...

wow, never knew some of this are actually edible... thanks for sharing pete.

Yea haha! Pete got so much talents is scary and he is a guy! :P His kids and wife are really lucky.

Mei Teng said...

Pete, it's great that you are growing herbs on your own. Did you read yesterday's Star article on veggies and the use of pesticides. I shudder at the thought of those veggies overladen with pesticides. Better to grow your own than buying from the market. Also, better to consume cili padi than red chillies as the latter are heavily sprayed with chemicals.

Pete said...

Ladyviral : Ha Ha Ha, now everything is like the internet, it is borderless. So much things can be found and learned with the click of the mouse. Don't be scared lah, I am just a normal guy who like to learn new things.

Pete said...

Mei Teng : We are suppose to eat more greens but those veggies available in the market are laden with so much chemical...eat also die don't eat also die....he he he!

tuti said...

pete, today you offer grass for food. thank goodness won't leave your blog hungry for once. hehehe.
(you're a swell guy, lucky kids/wife)

Pete said...

Hi Tuti, ha ha ha, grass for food, ROLF....gotta have a change, instead of having too much good food, I guess 'grass' would be a good healthy alternative. LOL! Thks Tuti!

smallkucing said...

I envy your vegetable garden. Unfortunately for me or rather for the plants...whatever I plant sure goes to plant heaven :(

Pete said...

Smallkucing : Wow, got plant heaven leh! LOL!

Tching said...

Wow! You got an "Agriculture Garden" at your house! Cool!

Pete said...

Tching : Ha ha ha, Agriculture Garden. Actually I simply plant all those plants....everywhere in my garden. LOL!

wenn said...

wow, really admire u..my mum only plants the pandan leaves..

Pete said...

Wenn : Thks Wenn, pandan leaves are very useful, I love cooking with it.

fufu said...

it's not a small garden...it's a BIG garden indeed... so many plants =p

Pete said...

Fufu : Actually very small only. My garden getting to crowded already. Need to reorganised and trim some of the plants. LOL!

Christine said...

wow, Pete, you are quite the gardener and really know your herbs and fruit. Impressive collection. Thanks for sharing.

Pete said...

Christine : Thks Christine, I planted them so that I don't have to buy them from the market, but then sometime they hard to find at the market.

suituapui said...

Too bad I don't live in Selangor. Otherwise I know where I can get free veg! LOL!!! I take Hempedu Bumi every day...add hot water like tea, and drink! Very bitter...but very good for all kinds of ailments!

Chris said...

wow! U know so much things abt plants..

Pete said...

STP : Ha ha ha, do agree hempedu bumi is good for many ailments and also to reduce toxin in our body.

Chris : Just a hobby only. Good to use natural cure.

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

You've got quite a variety of plants growing in your garden. So much to harvest and enjoy.

Pete said...

Keats : It is good to consume vegetable and herbs that we planted all by ourselves. Taste real good!

Pei Pei said...

Pete, is that pegaga in your first (lychee) plant pic?
How nice to grow your own edible garden :)

Pete said...

Pei Pei : That plant looks like a pegaga but it is not. The leaves are thicker and darker green than pegaga. It multiply really fast!

Ayie said...

Those plants are very healthy and best of all...free! -)

kenwooi said...

your garden VERY green!
see everyday eyes sure perfect! lol..
nice plants.. haha.. =D

kenwooi.com

Pete said...

Ayie : At leat I will be confident of eating them, no pesticide! LOL

Kenwooi : Unfortunately, I am wearing glasses, he he he, greens no effect on my eyes leh! Ha ha!

mommyscchoo@yahoo.com said...

Pete, ho liao! har mi pun ei chor. Next time, will see you chiak chaw like gu in your herb garden lor. LOL !

Pete said...

MommySCChoo: Ha ha, chiak chaw....all the good herbs, can stay slim like me leh....he he he!

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The herbs also treat erectile dysfunction and if its true then it will make wonders for those who are looking to find a medicine best suited for them.

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Nice post. The herbs can be cultivated from the information given by you and some from the internet. What matters most is the effectiveness in curing it.

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