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!


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


Chilis. These little dudes are spicy!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.