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Herbs & Plants

Pandanus

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Botanical Name :Pandanus tectorius
Family:    Pandanaceae
Genus:    Pandanus
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:    Pandanales

Synonyms: Pandanus chamissonis,,Pandanus douglasii,Pandanus menziesii,Pandanus odoratissimus

Common Names: Pandanus, screw pine, or Pandan,Hala,Pu hala

Habitat: Pandanus trees are native to the Old World tropics and subtropics. They are classified in the order Pandanales.

Description:
Pandanus trees are palm-like, dioecious trees and shrubs growing 20 to 30 feet in height and from 15 to 35 feet in diameter. The trunk is stout and the branches grow at wide angles to it. It has distinctive long blade-like leaves (lau hala) about 2 inches wide and over 2 feet long. Most varieties have spines along the edges and on the midribs of the leaves. Spineless and variegated forms are available. The leaves are spirally arranged towards the ends of the branches and leave a spiral pattern on the trunk when they fall.  Pandanus trees develop support or prop roots (ule hala) at the base of the trunk and sometimes along the branches.

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Pandanus trees are either male or female. Female trees produce a large, segmented fruit somewhat resembling a pineapple. Male trees produce large clusters of tiny, fragrant flowers surrounded by white to cream colored bracts. These clusters are about 1 foot long and are called hinano in Hawaiian.

Propagation:
Female Pandanus tectorius trees flower 1 to 3 times a year, while male trees flower every 2 months. Pandanus tectorius is thought to reproduce sexually in Hawai’i, but there is some evidence that asexual seed development (apomixis) also occurs. Wind and small insects are assumed to be the pollinators.
The fruit of Pandanus tectorius is a round or oval head about 8 inches long and consisting of numerous segments called carpels, phalanges, or keys. There are 40 to 80 keys in each fruit. The color of the fruit ranges from yellow to orange to reddish when ripe. It takes several months for the fruits to ripen. Ripe fruits are very fragrant.

Pandanus keys are wedge shaped and 1 to 2 inches long. The inner end of the key is fleshy and the outer end is woody, generally containing a single seed. Lee found that larger fruit often contain seedless keys. Sometimes keys contain 2 seeds; infrequently, they contain more than 2 seeds.

Pandanus trees can be grown from large cuttings.

Edible Uses:
Pandan (P. amaryllifolius) leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking to add a distinct aroma to rice and curry dishes such as nasi lemak, kaya (‘jam’) preserves, and desserts such as pandan cake. In Indian cooking, the leaf is added whole to biryani, a kind of rice pilaf, made with ordinary rice (as opposed to that made with the premium-grade Basmati rice). The basis for this use is that both Basmati and Pandan leaf contain the same aromatic flavoring ingredient, 2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline. Pandan leaf can be used as a complement to chocolate in many dishes, such as ice cream. They are known as daun pandan in Indonesian and Malay;(b?n lán) in Mandarin; (su mwei ywe) in Myanmar, and as  (bai toei; pronounced ) in Thailand. Fresh leaves are typically torn into strips, tied in a knot to facilitate removal, placed in the cooking liquid, then removed at the end of cooking. Dried leaves and bottled extract may be bought in some places.

Kewra is an extract distilled from the pandanus flower, used to flavor drinks and desserts in Indian cuisine. Also, kewra or kewadaa is used in religious worship, and the leaves are used to make hair ornaments worn for their fragrance as well as decorative purpose in western India.

Species with large and medium fruit are edible, notably the many cultivated forms of P. tectorius (P. pulposus). The fruit is eaten raw or cooked. Small-fruited pandanus may be bitter and astringent.

Throughout Oceania, almost every part of the plant is used, with various species different from those used in Southeast Asian cooking. Pandanus trees provide materials for housing; clothing and textiles including the manufacture of dilly bags (carrying bags), fine mats or ‘ie toga; food, medication,[citation needed] decorations, fishing, and religious uses.

Medicinal Uses:
Pandanus leaves and roots are found to have medicinal benefits. Such parts of the plant have been found to have essential oils, tannin, alkaloids and glycosides, which are the reasons for the effective treatment of various health concerns.

Pandanus Health Benefits:
•.Treats leprosy, smallpox and wounds.
• Helps reduce fever
• Solves several skin problems
• Relives headache and arthritis
• Treatment for ear pains
• Functions as a laxative for children
• Eases chest pains
• Helps in speeding up the recuperation of women who have just given birth and are still weak
• Pandan reduces stomach spasms.

Pandan flowers have also been traced with characteristics that function as aphrodisiac.
Pandan also manifests anti-cancer activities,
It can also be used as antiseptic and anti-bacterial, which makes it ideal for healing wounds.

Preparation & Use of Pandan:
Decoction of the bark may be taken as tea, or mixed with water that is to be used in bathing, in order to remedy skin problems, cough, and urine-related concerns.
• Apply pulverized roots of pandan to affected wound areas to facilitate healing.
• The anthers of the male flowers are used for earaches, headaches and stomach spasms.
• Chew the roots to strengthen the gum.
• Extract oils and juices from the roots and flowers are used in preparing the decoction to relieve pains brought about by headache and arthritis.

Other Uses:
Pandan is used for handicrafts. Craftsmen collect the pandan leaves from plants in the wild. Only the young leaves are cut so the plant will naturally regenerate. The young leaves are sliced in fine strips and sorted for further processing. Weavers produce basic pandan mats of standard size or roll the leaves into pandan ropes for other designs. This is followed by a coloring process, in which pandan mats are placed in drums with water-based colors. After drying, the colored mats are shaped into final products, such as place mats or jewelry boxes. Final color touch-ups may be applied.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandanus
http://www2.hawaii.edu/%7Eeherring/hawnprop/pan-tect.htm
http://rullanamador.blogspot.in/2010/01/pandan-pandanus-tectorius.html

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Herbs & Plants

Coccinia cordifolia(Bengali :Kundri)

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Botanical Name: Coccinia cordifolia
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Coccinia
Species: C. grandis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales

Synonyms: Coccinia grandis, Cephalandra indica and Coccinia indica

Common Names:Ivy gourd,Baby watermelon,Little gourd, Gentleman’s toes, Tindora, Ivy gourd,Gentleman’s toes  and Gherkin,
Bengali Name :Kundri or Tela kochu
Sanskrit Name: Bimbi, Uthundika, Bimbitika, Rakthaphala, Ostopamphala, Pilulparni.
English Name:Ivy gourd
Kannada Name:Tonde
Hindi Name: Kanduri, Kulari, Kundru

Habitat : Coccinia cordifolia is native to Tropical Asia To Africa.It grows on light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Description:
Coccinia cordifolia is a large, glabrous, deciduous climbing shrub. The stems are rather succulent with long filiform fleshy aerial roots from the branches. The bark is grey-brown and warty; the leaves are membranous and cordate; the flowers, small, yellow or greenish yellow, in axillary and terminal racemes or racemose panicles; the male flowers clustered and females usually solitary; the drupes are ovoid, glossy, succulent, red and pea-sized; the seeds curved. ...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Edible Uses:
In India it is eaten as a curry, by deep-frying it along with spices; stuffing it with masala and sauteing it, or boiling it first in a pressure cooker and then frying it. It is also used in sambar, a vegetable and lentil-based soup.

There are a variety of recipes from all over the world that list ivy gourd as the main ingredient. It is often compared to bitter melon. The fruit is commonly eaten in Indian cuisine. People of Indonesia and other southeast Asian countries also consume the fruit and leaves. In Thai cuisine it is one of the ingredients of the Kaeng khae curry. Cultivation of ivy gourd in home gardens has been encouraged in Thailand due to it being a good source of several micronutrients, including vitamins A and C.

Constituents:
Tinsporine, tinosporide, tinosporaside, cordifolide, cordifol, heptacosanol, clerodane furano diterpene, diterpenoid furanolactone tinosporidine, columbin, and ß-sitosterol.

Medicinal Uses:
In traditional medicine, fruits have been used to treat leprosy, fever, asthma, bronchitis and jaundice. The fruit possesses mast cell stabilizing, anti-anaphylactic and antihistaminic potential.  In Bangladesh, the roots are used to treat osteoarthritis and joint pain. A paste made of leaves is applied to the skin to treat scabies.

Ivy gourd extracts and other forms of the plant can be purchased online and in health food stores. It is claimed that these products help regulate blood sugar levels. There is some research to support that compounds in the plant inhibit the enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase. Glucose-6-phosphatase is one of the key liver enzymes involved in regulating sugar metabolism. Therefore, ivy gourd is sometimes recommended for diabetic patients. Although these claims have not been supported, there currently is a fair amount of research focused on the medicinal properties of this plant focusing on its use as an antioxidant, anti-hypoglycemic agent, immune system modulator, etc. Some countries in Asia like Thailand prepare traditional tonic like drinks for medicinal purposes.

The leaves are rubbed on skin diseases  like  eximas,sorasis  etc  to get releaf.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccinia_grandis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Coccinia+grandis
http://parisaramahiti.kar.nic.in/Medicinal_plants_new/med%20plants/p62.html

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Herbs & Plants

Limnophila aromatica

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Botanical Name : Limnophila aromatica
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Limnophila
Species: L. aromatica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonym: Limnophila chinensis var. aromatica
Common Name : Rice Paddy Herb;     It is called “roum om” in Khmer or Phnom Penh dialect “ma om”.

Habitat : Limnophila aromatica is native to Southeast Asia, where it flourishes in hot temperatures and grows most often in watery environments, particularly in flooded rice fields. It is called ngò om or ngo in Vietnam and used as an herb and also cultivated for use as an aquarium plant.The plant was introduced to North America in the 1970s due to Vietnamese immigration following the Vietnam War.

Description:

Limnophila aromatica grows to a height of 10 to 20 inches (up to 24in.) (MID to BACKGROUND) The width of each stem is about 2 inches, based on leaf growth
Medium to high lighting (2.0 – 4 watts/gal)  Optimum growth temperature is 72 to 82.4 degrees

You may click to see the pictures

There are several varieties of this plant. The variety grown by Tropica is said to come from Malaysia. It is characterised by its narrow green leaves, which are purple underneath. Like most other red plants, the colour depends on a supply of intensive light. CO2 addition promotes growth significantly, and it also thrives in hard water. Limnophila aromatica is easy to propagate by cuttings. (Excerpt From Tropica)

Cultivation:
Limnophila aromatica grows best on drained but still wet sandy soil of harvested rice paddies for a few months after the rainy season ended. After rain stops at the end of monsoon reason in Cambodia, on the right soil, the herb grows everywhere like wildfire. it dies out soon after it flowers. Rural Cambodians often harvest them and put them on the roof of their houses to dry for later use.

Edible Uses:
L. aromatica has a flavor and aroma reminiscent of both lemon and cumin. It is used most often in Vietnamese cuisine, where it is called ngò om. It is an ingredient in canh chua, a sweet and sour seafood soup which also includes tamarind,not to be confused with ngò gai which is also added as an accompaniment to the noodle soup called ph?. In Thai cuisine it is known as phak kayang and is also used to make om
It is used in all traditional Cambodian soup dishes

Medicinal Uses:
In Asia, rau om is employed to treat many ailments.  In China, it is used for the treatment of intoxication and pain; in Indochina, to treat wounds; in Malaysia, chiefly as a poultice on sore legs, but also to promote appetite, and as an expectorant to clear mucus from the respiratory tract, and to treat fever; and in Indonesia, as an antiseptic or cleanser for worms.  The plant is also used in Asia for menstrual problems, wounds, dysentery, fever, elephantiasis, and indigestion.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.freshwateraquariumplants.com/plantprofiles/limnophilaaromatica.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limnophila_aromatica
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/plant-submissions/26213-limnophila-aromatica.html

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Herbs & Plants Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Kaffir Lime

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Botanical Name : Citrus hystrix DC., Rutaceae),
Family: Rutaceae
Other Names:Kieffer lime, Thai lime, wild lime, makrut, or magrood,
Burmese: shauk-nu
Indonesian: jerk purut, jeruk sambal
Malay:
duan limau purut
Philippino: swangi
Thai: makrut, som makrut

The leaves of this member of the citrus family are responsible for the distinctive lime-lemon aroma and flavour that are an indispensable part of Thai and, to a lesser extent, Indonesian cooking.

Description:
The leaves of the kaffir lime tree are a dark green color with a glossy sheen. They come in two parts: the top leaflet is lightly pointed at its tip and is attached to another leaflet beneath that is broader on its upper edge. The size of the leaves can vary quite a bit, from less than an inch to several inches long.

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The fruit is dark green and round, with a distinct nipple on the stem end. It has a thick rind, knobby and wrinkled, and one of its common names is ‘porcupine orange’. As the fruit becomes older, the color fades to a lighter, yellowish green. Though the juice is infrequently use in cooking, the zest of the rind is often used for making curry pastes.
The leaves and rind have a perfume unlike any other citrus, sometimes called mysterious or haunting. There is a combined lemon/lime/madarin aroma but clearly an identity of its own.

Culinary Uses
Kaffir lime leaves are precious to many Thai dishes, from soups and salads to curries and stir-fried dishes. They blend blend with lemon grass and lime juice in tom yam to give the soup its wholesome lemony essence. In soupy dishes, add the leaves whole or torn into smaller pieces, using them as one would bay leaves to flavour broth or stew.

Salads or garnishes require fresh leaves. Dried leaves cannot be substituted. The leaves, when young and tender, are finely shredded and added to salads and sprinkled over curries for a burst of flavour. Being rather thick, they must be cut very fine, like threads, and the thick mid-rib removed. To sliver kaffir lime leaves finely, stack three to four leaves of similar size together and slice them very thinly with a sharp knife. It is faster to cut diagonally , which gives the hands better leverage, or roll a few leaves at a time into a tight roll before slicing. If fresh kaffir lime leaves are not available, use the tender new leaves of lime, lemon or grapefruit. They won’t have the same fragrance but are preferable to using dried kaffir lime leaves in some dishes.

When making a soup or stock, whole fresh or dried leaves may be added, as they are removed after cooking. Finely chopped fresh or crumbled dry kaffir lime leaves are used in dishes like tom yum, strir fries and curries, especially those containing coconut cream. The flavour also combines well with basil, cardamom, chiles, cilantro, cumin, curry leaves, lemon grass, galangal, ginger, mint, tamarind, turmeric and coconut milk.

Though the juice is seldom used in cooking, the peel of the fruit, with its high concentration of aromatic oils, is indispensable in many curry pastes and is one reason why Thai curries taste refreshingly unique. The zest also imparts a wonderful piquant flavour to such delectable favorites as fried fish cakes, and it blends in powerfully with such spicy, chile-laden stews as “jungle soup” (gkaeng bpah). Because it’s strong flavour can over power the more subtle ones in a dish, the rind should be used sparingly, grated or chopped finely and reduced in a mortar with other paste ingredients until indistinguishable..

Kaffir lime is used extensively in Thai cooking. Both the zest and leaves are very useful. The fruit looks like wrinkled lime, big wrinkles. Thai people believed the juice is excellent hair rinse to prevent hair from falling out. The zest of the lime is an ingredient in red curry paste.

The juice is rarely used in Thai cooking, but the zest is common.

Recently, Thai growers have developed and started growing a kaffir lime without wrinkles that is easier to pack and ship around the world.
The leaf look like any citrus leaf, but it has two connecting leaves. I often call it the double leaf. Many recipes calls for its leaves. If the leaf is used whole, in soup, most people do not eat the leaf itself. The only time the leaf is eaten is when it sliced very thin for recipes like Tod Mun.

Medicinal Properties
The citrus juice used to be included in Thai ointments and shampoos, and in tonics in Malaysia. Kaffir lime shampoo leaves the hair squeaky clean and invigorates the scalp. Kaffir lime has also been used for ages as a natural bleach to remove tough stains.

The essential oils in the fruit are incorporated into various ointments, and the rind is an ingredient in medical tonics believed to be good for the blood. Like lemon grass and galangal, the rind is also known to have beneficial properties for the digestive system.

In folk medicine, the juice of kaffir lime is said to promote gum health and is recommended for use in brushing teeth and gums. It is believed to freshen one’s mental outlook and ward off evil spirits

The leaves can be used fresh or dried, and can be stored frozen.

The juice and rinds of the kaffir lime are used in traditional Indonesian medicine; for this reason the fruit is sometimes referred to in Indonesia as jeruk obat – literally “medicine citrus”. The oil from the rind has strong insecticidal properties.

The zest of the fruit is widely used in creole cuisine and to impart flavor to “arranged” rums in the Réunion island and Madagascar.

Storage
The leaves may be recognized by their distinctive two sections. For simmering in soups or curries the leaves are used whole. Frozen or dried leaves may be used for simmering if fresh leaves are not available. The finely grated rind of the lumpy-skinned fruit has its own special fragrance. If you can obtain fresh kaffir limes, they freeze well enclosed in freezer bags and will keep indefinitely in that state. Just grate a little rind off the frozen lime and replace lime in freezer until next required. The leaves freeze well too. dried kaffir lime leaves should be green, not yellow, and are best kept under the same conditions as other dried herbs. They will keep for about 12 months in an airtight pack, out of light, heat and humidity.

Click to Buy fresh lime leaves and other Thai ingredients


Resources:

http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/kaffir.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaffir_lime

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/67460/