A Wonder Herb
Words: Sarita Urupongsa
A popular garden herb in a Thai household, lemongrass is much loved for its aromatic scent and a key culinary ingredient in the often requested tom yum soup. This plant is crucial among Thai herbs plants as it contains antioxidants, flavonoids and phenolic compounds that provide abundant health benefits. It helps in increasing appetite, alleviating flu symptoms, coughs and headaches while its anti-oxidant properties generate a youthfulness to the skin. When boiled and made into lemongrass juice and lemongrass tea that’s served either iced or hot, the herb miraculously refreshes and comes with a bonus to cooling down the body. Among its other benefits include aiding with digestion and reducing gastrointestinal gas. Most Thai people usually make sure they have lemongrass in their kitchen as it helps reduce a fishy or meat odour when it comes to cooking.
Lemongrass also comes with another highlighted feature: its essential oil that’s found in the stems and leaves. Its fragrance finds common use as an insect and mosquito repellent. Apart from its relaxing fragrance, applying lemongrass essential oil on the skin gives a warmth that helps release muscle tension. When used to massage the body, the soothing oil rids the body of muscle strains and joint pain and a reason why lemongrass essential oil is a much sought-after ingredient in massage oils and spa products compared to other herbs.
- 4 lemongrass stalks
- 4 cups of water
- ¾ cup of sugar
- Small ice cubes
- 4 pandanus leaves to add fragrance
- Clean lemongrass and pandanus leaves in water.
- Chop the lemongrass and pound the chopped pieces. Tie them into chunks using pandanus leaves.
- Measure water and pour into a pot, followed by the lemongrass and pandanus leaves. Simmer on medium heat until the water boils and takes on a light greenish colour.
- Remove the pot from the flame. Filter the lemongrass and pandanus leftover from the liquid.
- Reheat the filtered juice. Add sugar until it melts. Adjust the taste as preferred.
- Let the liquid cool down, add ice cubes, and decorate the glass with fresh lemongrass.
TIPS: Filtered lemongrass stalks can be boiled 1-2 more times. The taste may be less rich, but the drink is still wonderfully refreshing.