One of the reasons why local dishes boast such rich flavours is because of how we incorporate a variety of herbs and spices into our daily cooking. Bursting with flavour and taste, these herbs & spices are integrated perfectly in signature dishes like Laksa and Rendang to create a flavour of depth that makes them our local favourites!
Many of these herbs & spices have intrinsic health benefits and relieve many common ailments too, talk about killing two birds with one stone!
Turmeric is a popular spice used frequently in Southeast Asian cuisines, especially as a flavour enhancer in delicious curry dishes! Providing a rich and robust flavour, Turmeric also contains a powerful antioxidant known as curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory benefits, aiding in the prevention of cell damage in the body.
Love Chicken? Check out this Cashew Butter Chicken Masala recipe from EatingWell which contains a generous portion of turmeric and other spices – making it both a delicious and healthy dish!
2. Laksa Leaf
Laksa Leaf, also known as Vietnamese Coriander is an exotic herb commonly found in tangy, spicy Southeast Asian dishes. Be it cooking, baking or garnishing, this herb is extensively used in our local cuisine, especially for spicy, hot and sour dishes like Assam Fish and even Tom Yam!
Not only do Laksa leaves give your dishes an additional kick, it also has a plethora of health benefits including aiding in digestion and inflammation. Its diuretic properties also make it a great way to detoxify the body, cleansing the liver of various toxic substances.
Start cooking with Laksa leaves using this healthy Laksa Fried Rice recipe from Health Hub!
Everybody’s favourite ingredient in the culinary world that goes hand-in-hand with local staples like Chicken Rice and Char Kway Teow! Aside from adding intense flavours and aroma to any dish, it comes with heaps of health properties too!
Garlic helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve one’s immunity system and contains cysteine, an amino acid that boosts hair strength and elasticity, giving you thicker and healthier hair!
Heres a recipe from Watch What U Eat on a healthy Asian Chilli Garlic Tofu Stir-Fry you can cook in under 30mins!
4. Star Anise
An aptly named spice because of the star-shaped pods they reside in, star anise is often confused with anise, but the two are entirely unrelated as it carries its own distinct liquorice flavour and medicinal benefits.
Famed for its presence in the Chinese “5 spices” and Indian “Garam Masala” blends, this versatile spice is rich in powerful bioactive compounds, giving it many antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial capabilities!
We have just the recipe to fully make use of this spice in a hearty bowl of Braised Pig Trotters with Mushrooms and Chestnuts.
Lemongrass is a fragrant herb that is commonly found as an ingredient in Asian dishes – injecting a bright citrus flavour to everything from soups to curry!
What’s more, lemongrass is also often steeped in water to be drunk as tea because of the great health benefits within the herb. It includes relief from flu, insomnia, stomach problems and even respiratory disorders!
So indulge in this Ginger Lemongrass Detox Iced Tea from Rasa Malaysia, a healthy and easy-to-make drink that is perfect for the summer.