Ever wondered how Thai food gets that lemony, citrusy flavour? The ingredient responsible for it is known as Lemongrass, among other names like citronella, Sweet Rush, and fever grass.
Although it is used profusely in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and even Vietnam, the roots of lemongrass lie in India and Nepal. From this region it migrated to South-east Asia where it is now used in Asian teas, soups and curries.
Lemongrass was used extensively in ancient Ayurvedic medicines. Its medicinal properties have been known for centuries and include:
In addition to the above listed health benefits, lemongrass reduces blood pressure, improves blood circulation, helps flatulence and colic. It is a known deodorant and is used as a home remedy for menstrual cramps when it is mixed with pepper. Lemongrass can be used as an insect repellant and the essential oil can either be applied on the arms and legs to prevent insect bites and keep away bugs.
With this burgeoning list of positive qualities, it is a wonder that lemongrass is not used more cuisines! So how can you benefit from lemongrass? While shopping for lemongrass, choose the leaves carefully. They should be grey-green, thin and long. They should be fibrous and the outside leaves as well as the tips should be chopped finely or thrown away. The base of the leaves needs to be ground.
Lemongrass is extremely flexible in use. It can be used fresh or dried. Asian cooking uses lemongrass by chopping it finely and adding it to curry. It lends a sour taste to food that goes well with ginger. Another way is to make a concoction of lemongrass boiled with water and drink the emergent tea. Lemongrass is also available in the form of an essential oil.
Do yourself a favour and start using lemongrass today!