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Flavour it up!

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Lemon grass, a.k.a Cochin grass and Malabar grass, is a tall, perennial tropical herb used in cooking and medicine throughout Asia. Lemon grass was one of the herbs to travel along the spice route from Asia to Europe. Europeans used dried lemon grass in the making of beer and spiced liqueurs. Lemon grass flavours the meat, chicken and seafood dishes of South Asia and South East Asia. It gives Sri Lankan, Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Indonesian dishes their distinctive lemony tang. The cuisines of Southeast Asia use coconut milk extensively, and lemon grass goes well with this and other commonly used herbs and spices like ginger, lime leaves, bay leaves, coriander, black pepper, mint and nutmeg. The herb's popularity comes from the mildness of its fragrance, which does not overpower the senses the way lime does. The grass also spices soups and herbal teas. It is a popular local flavouring in non-alcoholic beverages, baked foods and soft drinks. Citral, the essential oil in lemon grass, is commonly used in soaps, perfumes, detergents, cosmetics and candles. Most soaps and aftershaves with a fresh lime fragrance use citral. The essential oil is a popular ingredient in aromatherapy.Lemon grass, along with black pepper, is also a remedy for menstrual disorders. The herb decoction is a tonic and digestive. RAJIV M

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