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The goodness of grass

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RECIPE A healthy soup with lemongrass

L emongrass is widely used as a herb in Asian cuisine. It has a subtle citrus flavour and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh. Lemongrass is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries. It is also suitable for poultry, fish, beef, and seafood. It is often used as a tea in African and Latin American countries. Lemongrass oil, used as a pesticide and preservative, is put on the ancient palm-leaf manuscripts found in India as a preservative.

Varieties of lemongrass include citronella grass, which grows to 2m and has red base stems. These species are used for the production of citronella oil, which is used in soaps, as an insect repellent in insect sprays and candles, and also in aromatherapy. Besides oil production, citronella grass is also used for culinary purposes, in tea and as a flavouring agent. East, also called Cochin grass or Malabar grass, is native to Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand while the West-Indian lemongrass, also known as serai in Malay, are more suited for cooking. In India it is used both as a medicinal herb and in perfumes.

Health benefits of lemongrass

Lemongrass is known for its anti-carcinogenic properties causing apoptosis, programmed cell death in cancer cells. Citral, a molecule found in lemongrass, added to a cup of tea (one gram of lemon grass in hot water), induces programmed cell death in the cancerous cells, while the normal cells are left unharmed. Lemongrass is used locally over rheumatic joints, lumbago and spine.

Recipe

Tom Yum Het Mangsawirat

(Mushroom Lemongrass

Soup)

Ingredient

Lemongrass: 1 stalk

Cilantro root and leaves: 10

gm

Galangal: 5 gm

Kefir lemon leaves: 2 leaves

Garlic: 6 cloves

Shrimp paste: 8 gm

Red chilli paste: 5 gm

Tomato: 1

Mushroom: 8

Chilli: 1

Sugar: 3 gm

Lime juice: 1 tsp

Light soya: 1 tsp

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Put water in a sauce pan. Crush the lemongrass, shrimp paste, garlic, red chilli paste and cilantro root in a stone mortar, and add them to the water. Tear the lime leaves to release flavour, and throw them in too along with the galangal. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil on medium high heat. Boil your herbs for about five minutes or so, to release the flavours. The colour of the water should be a light red when finished. Add the mushrooms and chillies. Boil for 2-3 more minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add the diced tomato, and cook until soft, probably less than a minute. Turn off the stove. Add soy sauce, sugar, and at the very end, lime juice. Taste to make sure the flavour is right. It should be very sour and spicy. Add more lime juice depending on how sour the limes are. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with cilantro.

Chef Varghese Joy Thoppil

Lemongrass is known for its anti-carcinogenic properties

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