Wednesday, May 02, 2012

lime drink with pandan

At the risk of being known as "that pandan blog" I have decided to post today's recipe because it's hot. Go on, ask me how hot it is. Ask me. So hot, I could fry an egg on the pavement? Probably not. But definitely hot enough for my laundry to dry almost crisp as crackers within two hours. And just so you know, I do not own a dryer, so that's air dried laundry I'm talking about. Oh, how about I could make a Nescafe with tap water, if I wanted to, with the water heater off? No, I don't drink Nescafe, I save it for guests, but I only use boiled water to make it, I swear! *phew* ;)

I did tell you, didn't I , that I looooove pandan? It's so common, so available here, we take it for granted. When I was little, it used to grow everywhere; by the side of the road, clinging tenaciously to the mossy green sides of huge drains, gaily dotting the gardens of kampung houses in big, rusting milk cans with holes punched out at the bottom.

These days, it isn't as ubiquitous, but it's still easy to find in the shops and markets, thankfully. It's not a terribly handsome plant, looking almost reed like, but the smell, oh, the SMELL!!! How do I even begin to describe it, adequately??

It's an intoxicating, bewitching cocktail of  gardenia, lemongrass, vanilla and pomelo, only much softer. If you ask someone else, you'd probably get a different answer, though almost anyone who has ever smelt it will tell you it's the stuff of foodie dreams. Really, what's not to love? If you've never smelt it before, think of the way your kitchen smells when you're cooking the highest grade of unblended Thai jasmine rice, and you would be somewhere in the ball park.

Now, before I forget,  a word about our other sponsor today. The lime is thought to have originated from either Iran or Iraq and they were first cultivated on a large scale in these two countries. The variety of lime I used for this drink, which is called limau nipis (thin skinned lime) or citrus aurantifolia for botany geeks, is native to southeast Asia and looks a lot like the key lime. It has an interesting background in Singapore and Malaysia. Got the time? I got a story!

Besides being invaluable in the kitchen, the limau nipis is an essential 'tool' in  spiritual healing, postnatal care and black magic rituals practiced in Singapore, Malaysia and probably elsewhere in the Malay Archipelago. It is used in 'exorcism' and cleansing rituals, hexes and love charms and spells, amongst other things. How do I know all of "this"? Not that I've ever put a hex or charm on anyone, but you grow up in a kampung (village) and you hear things, and if you're lucky enough, you see things.

I had this impish cousin who used to love to scare the bejezus out of his dad, especially when his dad had crossed him one way or another. One day, he sliced a lime across in half, painted the cut surfaces red and stuck needles into the lime's girth. One half went under his dad's pillow and the other, by the side of the front door. He then waited for the fireworks to explode when his dad got home from work. Of course, his dad almost had a seizure but he got the hiding of his life in return. Ahhh.....the joys of childhood.

But..... I'm  a food blogger, so to me, the lime is just a gorgeous, green, glowing orb of luscious, fragrant juiciness, and good copy when the sun decides to come out and desiccate us mere mortals. The combination of pandan and lime with piles of ice is just short of magical, in this ungodly heat and with spicy or rich dishes like sambal, fish curry, mee goreng (south Indian fried noodles) nasi lemak (coconut rice), biryani or laksa. In fact, lime juice (often scented with pandan) is often found on the menus of fish head curry restaurants in Singapore.

So, back to that question. How hot is it now in Singapore? If a picture really does tell a thousand words, the one below is testament to the ongoing tantrum her royal highness, the sun, has been throwing in this part of the world. No, I don't harbour murderous intentions towards plants and I don't favour the baked-kale-chips look, nor was I neglectful. Despite daily watering (note robustly verdant neighbour on the left) my dainty darling succumbed to the heat and is no more *sniff* If you're wondering, yes, those frilly maidenhair fronds in the pictures above were hers, in her prime, just two days ago. Oh, the pain! May her pretty soul rest in peace.


  1. Oh that poor maidenhair fern! She was so pretty. Cut her back and give her a good drink. Perhaps she may just be revived. Looking at her sad state I can almost feel the heat.

    I think those limes are called limau kasturi in Malaysia. Their scent is not as strong but they work well in sambal belacan and curry mee. Oh, I did not realize they had "other" uses as well. That cousin of yours must have had the hiding of his life with such a prank!

    I can't remember when was the last time I had limeade. Although limes are easily available, key limes are less so and they are not always at their best. Stay cool my friend.

    1. Doesn't it almost break your heart? I think she may be too far gone, but I will give it a try anyway.

      Funny how the same thing can be called different names just across the border lol In Singapore limau kasturi are the tiny limes that you can easily hold half a dozen of in your palm, otherwise known as calamansi or calamondine, but we do use them the same way at least, ie squeezed over sambal belacan, fried prawn noodles or mee rebus. Not many people know the other 'secret' life of the lmau nipis, but growing up in a kampung, I'd hear people talk, usually in hushed tones, about these mysterious things :O

      Maybe you'll have it soon then? ;)

    2. Yes, limau kasturi are the tiny ones. I think some people call it calamansi too. There are definitely many hibby-jibby stories in the kampung that I will share with you someday off-line. :)

      BTW, I did get my limeade fix yesterday cause I happen to have limes with me. You will see it in a post soon. ;)

  2. Black magic rituals? Wow! Didn't know lime has such powerful effects. Scary! Lol!

    I love lime, pandan & bloody mary too. Gosh, u're a Scorpion too?? Too much in common. Hahaha!

    1. Hi Shirley - well as I was telling Biren up there, not many people know these things, but kampung life, under it's sleepy exterior, can be very, very interesting ;)

      Well, well, lol hello my astrological sister. Don't sting me, and I won't sting you ;)

  3. Denise, your lime drink looks so tantalizing. I'm trying to visualze the marriage of flavours between the pandan and lime (or lemon). Interesting. I've never tried to mix these 2 together, but I definitely will, when, I get to see more sun. We've been having gloomy days/ weekends, raining cats and dogs some days, and just a few hours of sunshine :-(

    Poor us over here, we have to buy pandan leaves in bulk, then freeze them up for rainy days. The same goes for daun kunyit.

    And what an interesting (albeit, funny :-D) story about the limau nipis :-D

    1. Hi Nasifriet, thank you! It's unbelievably refreshing and you really would have a hard time stopping at just one glass. At the moment, I would kill for a downpour to cool things down a little *phew* I do feel sympathetic towards transplanted Asians in the West who have to forego simple but beloved Asian foods and flavours, and resort to all kinds of substitutions. Sadly things like pandan and daun kunyit, have no substitutes and as you say, only frozen forms are available..

      Ha ha, the supposedly 'secret' double life of the limau nipis! Curiously, many people even here, don't seem to know anything about traditional black magic practices in the Malay Archipelago, though they may have grown up in kampungs. lol That story has been circulating in my family for generations, and generating much laughter, though my cousin has long passed away. I'm sure he didn't think it was funny though, when he was bent over his father's knees :D

  4. sounds good. your glass is so cute.

  5. Hi Dina, this drink is lovely in hot weather. I think the glasses are cute too :) Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment.

  6. I have no idea what pandan tastes like, but this drink certainly looks very refreshing. Definitely buying pandan when I go to Singapore.

  7. "Botanical Homicide" are too funny! But that poor baby :(
    Your drink however sounds so cooling and seriously delicious!


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