Tuesday, January 07, 2014
I Call It 'Bunga Telang'
Saw that flower and grinned. Bunga telang or bunga biro. Otherwise known as butterfly-pea or blue-pea flower. While a rarity in Singaporean and Malaysian foods nowadays, Thailand still uses it. It has done so since the ancient times as a herbal remedy. For some reason, it never got my attention till now. They call it 'dok anchan' (ดอกอัญชัน).
These flowers per se are edible too. Deep fried is lovely. Besides that, they're used extensively in cooking and baking (those nonya kueh...). Thai dessert 'khanom chan' (ขนมชั้น which also comes in pink and green), and 'chaw muang' (ช่อม่วง, either savoury or sweet) both utilize the colouring too. The flowers are also squeezed to produce an infusion of 'tea' blue or purple. A few drops of lime juice into the blue extract will turn it purple. Whichever the color, this drink is supposed to prevent hair loss too. Heh. I like it plain, without sugar. Instead of lemongrass or ginger tea, many hotels serve naam dok anjan as a welcome drink; the spas also serve it at the end of a session. Rather refreshing.
Since I don't cook, I've not idea what dok anchan can be used for, except for what is commonly seen in Thai (and Southeast Asian) kitchens. I suppose it's used for anything that could be stained blue. It lends a pleasant shade of color to steamed white rice. I like that. The extract doesn't affect the flavor or texture of the rice, but simply adds a bit of fun to the meal.