Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tea for life

Malaysia is a country rich with natural herbs and spices that we have used for generations to flavour our dishes and drank as tea which has been passed down with anecdotes with not much
documentation.  We also, until relatively recently, didn't do much research on it.  This has now become my hobby, documenting the "folklore" and meeting with Malay traditional herbalist, many of whom do not have PhDs, but have been practising what has been passed down to them.  I have also made myself a guinea pig to test out these recipes.  The beauty of it all is by using the right combinations, it serves as a preventive as well as a cure, of course often without the fast response of pharmaceutical drugs but it doesn't being with it the many negative side effects.  What I am placing in this blog is based on my experience along with the information that I have gathered from many sources and serves as information.  I am not a medical professional but merely someone who has a high interest in living holistic life with minimal pharmaceutical drugs.

To start with, I have a farm where I grow all the plants and trees that I use for my teas, my way of controlling the input and ensuring minimal contaminants.  Our farm practices natural farming, using organic and natural fertilisers and pesticides and no chemical fertilisers or pesticides.  To me, it doesn't make sense to add these poisons into something that I want to consume to promote and care my health.

The teas that I produce for my own consumption and for limited sales are:

  1. My balancing tea - Misai Kucing and Kemangi mix.  This tea has natural properties as a blood cleansing tea as well as a blood-sugar regulator.  This is my go-to tea when I eat rich, high sugar or high carbohydrate foods such as cakes and durians. 
  2. My preventive cancer tea - Durian Belanda and Serai mix. Based on research done by universities and health organisations, this two ingredients have the capability to neutralise cancer cells so I drink this tea couple of times a week for prevention and often in the evening as our body tends to do its "cleansing" and "rebuilding" at night.
  3. My breathing easy tea - Ruku and Kemangi mix.  Ruku has properties that help the respiratory system and in combination with the Kemangi that has an overall cleansing effect, I drink this every so often, more often when we have the haze.
  4. My cooling tea - Serai and Misai Kucing mix.  After a work out at the farm, I like to enjoy this tea to cleanse the acids produced from the workout and cooling my body.  I tend to drink this one cold, especially on hot days.
Whilst some of these teas can be produced from fresh ingredients, I opted to air-dry them to enable ease of storage and access as well as portability.  I can take them with me anywhere.  All these teas have a pleasant, non-bitter taste.  I drink them without any form of sweetener such as sugar or honey to eliminate the risk of the sweetener causing the teas to lose its homeopathic properties thus reducing the effectiveness of the tea.

These teas can be prepared in a few ways:

  1. By placing them in a glass jar and placing them in direct sunlight for a few hours.
  2. By placing them in a tea pot filled with just-boiled water and allowing them to seep for about 20 minutes
  3. By bringing water to a boil in a pot and placing the tea and allowing it to simmer at low heat for five minutes.
By using method 3, you can also prepare a concentrate which can then be stored in the refrigerator.  When I want to drink it, I either add hot or cold water, depending if I want to have a hot or cold drink.

So, if you are considering drinking teas, try these combinations instead of regular tea and if you can get the additional benefits.  Happy trying :).

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Joys of Hulu Langat Durian Season

It is that time of the year again - the Durian Season of Hulu Langat.  I am very partial to these "original durians", those that have not been genetically modified or subjected to hormones and such. To me, part of the joy of eating these durians is the discovery of what the fruit is like and the great
taste.  No matter how much we tamper with nature, I feel that what nature produces surpasses our intervention.  I do not get bored eating them.

We have brought the durians to market at the Sg. Penchala Pasar Ramadhan this season and I am happy that we have a good response to our fruits.  One of the questions that I was asked that I thought was interesting was: "Do you pick them from the tree when they are mature?".  We do not pick them from the tree, we wait for them to fall off the tree.  The best time to eat them is the day after it fell off the tree.  We do not inject the trees to encourage fruiting either.  I find it interesting that some people shake the durian in order to select the durian - apparently this is done when buying GM durians to see if the fruit have lots of flesh or more empty space.  Original durians tend to be packed int he fruit so they do not move around in their "cocoon".  The Hulu Langat durian season last for about 1 month and the best fruits are obtained from the second week, somehow the tree gets rid of the "not so good" fruits in the first few days.

Our durians do not have names like D24, C101 or the like - these are from GM durian trees.  Our durians have names like durian kunyit, tembaga, telor buaya and api.  The size and shape of the fruits are not the same from the same tree.  The fruit taste varies from tree to tree, from sweet and creamy to sweet with a bite to it, and the flesh colour from creamy white to orange-yellow.  It is an adventure.

With the abundance with durians, what do you do with them apart from eating them fresh?  There are many options.  You can make lempok durian, lemang durian, kuah durian, dodol durian, durian ice cream and durian cream which you can use as a filling for crepes.  These are the sweet dishes.  For savoury dishes, you can make tempoyak, which essentially is "fermented" durian that is used in gulai tempoyak and also sambal tempoyak.

For making tempoyak, you can use durians that are a few days old and those that have naturally "split" open.  Just remove the flesh from the seeds and place them in a container and place in the refrigerator for a few days before you start using them to make your savoury dishes.  It can keep for a couple of months.

If you find a particular fruit that you love the flavour but just cannot eat them all, just remove the flesh with or without the seed and place them in the freezer.  It can last for months and you can just remove it from the freezer and allow it to defrost before eating them.  So, let us enjoy this wondrous fruit during this season :)