One of the great things about our apartment block is the garden.  It’s really a yard, a shared green space, but for all the foodstuffs that come out of it, we’ll go ahead with the local terminology and call it a garden.  So convenient and satisfying to go down to ride bikes and go up ready to spice up our dinner.  Most of these plants are hidden behind decorative ones in the landscaping – not sure if it’s for aesthetics or to keep the secret of free ingredients!

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Kaffir Lime Leaf. Delicious in curries, soups and even steeped in cold water for a refreshing drink.

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Chilis. These little dudes are spicy!

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Kalamansi limes. Limey, but orange inside and a little sweet. Makes great limeade, salsa and as a “sour” component in any sweet-sour-spicy-salty combo.

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Banana leaf. Although we don’t eat them, they can be used to wrap items to steam, or as a makeshift placemat, adding fragrance to the dish.

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Curry leaves. These make Indian dishes taste amazing. Fried with cabbage, green beans or folded into dahl or curry, this is my favorite local flavor.

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Pandan leaves. From the coconut family, pandan imparts a similar flavor. Try it crushed or knotted into a pot of coconut rice for nasi lemak, or blended and strained to color nyonya kueh.

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Edible flowers. A friend served these knotted with spring onion around a tiny Vietnamese appetizer or pork and prawns.

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Coconut. The trees in our garden deliver fresh, young coconut. Just ask the gardener to pull out his perang, and we’ve got an afternoon treat.

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