Lemongrass is a tall perennial grass. It looks like grass but its edges are sharp. It flourishes well in fertile sandy soils with tropical climates receiving heavy rain. Lemongrass grows well in warm temperate and tropical regions of South East Asia and Oceania. It’s common names include lemon grass, lemongrass, barbed wire grass, silky heads, citronella grass, cha de Dartigalongue, fever grass, tanglad, hierba Luisa or gavati chaha and Cymbopogon amongst many others. This citrusy plant is a key ingredient in South East Asian cuisines. It is an important culinary herb which unleashes a distinctive lemon flavor when cut or crushed due to the release of citral essential oil. The aroma is bound to stimulate your taste buds.
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In addition to its uses in the kitchen, it is valued medicinally as a remedy for a wide range of ailments. Studies have also found that lemongrass contains antimicrobial properties that fight E. coli. It is also helpful in relieving colitis, indigestion, and gastro-enteritis. Lemongrass oil when used in aromatherapies revitalizes and helps relieve aches, exhaustion and other stress related conditions. It doubles as a muscle and skin-toner for massage therapy. Lemongrass infusions alleviate infections such as sore throats, laryngitis, bronchitis and so on.
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The stems and leaf buds are excellent for cooking fish, seafoods, poultry and meat. It is widely used in South East Asian cuisine for teas, soups (like the oh-so-tantalising tom yum!), curries, marinades, braising liquids and even salads. It’s delicate flavor works well as a base for pickles. You can use whole lemon grass in stews and curries. You can have it finely chopped or ground to a paste for marinades and soups or add to stir-fries. It can also be used as a flavouring for crème brulee or steep a stalk in a bottle of vodka for cocktails. To release the flavor and scent, you’ll need to crush, slice, grate, or mince the stems. Lemongrass works especially well in combination with garlic, onion, and ginger in stir-fries, soups, seasoning pastes, and sauces.
Lemongrass is renown for its essential oils, chemicals, minerals and vitamins. It’s also an anti-oxidant. The primary chemical component, citral has strong anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Other constituents of the essential oils such as myrcene, citronellol, methyl heptenone, dipentene, geraniol, limonene, geranyl acetate, nerol are known to have anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. Lemongrass is rich in many invaluable essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin C and vitamin A. It is also rich in minerals such as potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium. It is also a source of folic acid. In Ayurveda, lemongrass is used as a diuretic, nervine, diaphoretic, febrifuge, sedative and tonic.