Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Butterfly Pea

Hey guys

Today is the Winter Solstice Festival and I suppose those of you who celebrate it will know what that means... Tang Yuen! Now, Tang Yuen are actually really easy to make, they comprise mostly of rice flour balls encasing a small bit of brown sugar that is cooked in pandan and "gula malacca" syrup until they float. However, at our house, we being of the rather artistic sort often like to try to do different things with the rice flour. Last year we made pokemon shaped Tang Yuen, I'm pretty sure we had most of them floating about in the boiling water and the year before we made little bunnies and carrot shaped ones. This year was no different although we took it a step further in making our own dyes as well.

The butterfly pea, Clitoria Ternatea
This lovely little plant - which my mother has unceremoniously dubbed as the "blue flower" - is in fact a butterfly pea, so named for its strange petals which form "wings" around a central bud. The latin, or scientific name for this plant is called Clitoria ternatea, which sounds kind of like a bad word if you think about it...or a rather vulgar reference ot a certain human body part. Anyway, what most Malaysians can tell you is that the sap from this flower, can be used to produce the most beautiful blue-colored dye.

The first step is of course, to collect the flowers. Make sure you pick the fresh ones and not the ones which have begun to wither to get the most of the blue colour. Wash them thoroughly and check for bugs
Grind them with a pestle until their all pasty... so. The grounded petals should now produce this horrible grassy smell which I can never get quite used to. Anyway when they have been ground to a pulp, remove them and press them against a strainer to get the juices.

And there you have it! Brilliantly colored organic blue food dye!
 Now...I'm not quite so sure yet to what creative means this blue dye can be put up to besides the obvious but I must say the blue is quite strikingly similar to ballpoint pen ink, wouldn't you say so? Anyway just in case you were wondering, these plants are hideously easy to cultivate and do not require much, or at all care save a place to cling unto as they grow and besides providing an ever ready source of blue food colouring, this plants is pretty amazing in that its roots (which also possess a medicinal quality by the way) fix nitrogen and therefore improves soil quality as well! Pretty amazing huh! Anyway I'll leave you now as I have got more butterfly specimens coming in. Smell ya later~

If people are trying to bring you down, be proud of it. It only confirms that you're above them


Nature Rambles said...

Hi Cyren, I've only read about the food dye made from the butterfly pea. Glad you posted the pictures. Just been going through your older posts....loved them!

About your question on my blog, Kali is a powerful goddesss. Amongst the framed pictures of gods and goddesses I grew up with (in my mother's altar), Lakshmi (goddess of wealth), and Saraswati (goddess of learning)look mild compared to the power of Kali. Kali also means dark. Yes, she is an important figure in our religion.

Daria said...