October 19, 2009

Serai Wangi

Serai wangi has been around for a long time.

But not many people until very recently know that it can be a good mosquito repellent. Planted in masny of my friends' tropical gardens serai wangi can give out an exotic fragrance which I really like . It is not intoxicating to me as it is gentle and soft and in fact it can be really subtle if you don't pay too much attention to it.

A friend claims that it gives her a big headache. But she can wear POISON and doesn't teel the scent overwhelming. I use a teeny drop of lavender scented water just to feel fresh and absolutely feminine. But again once a friend did say that I remind her of her mother's nyonya clothes. Well well...there is no rationale in one's liking for smells. Mark and Spencer's China Blue talcum powder can make feel as confident as if I were wearing Estee Lauder's White Linen.

I know for myself that I only have to smell lavender and I would just be so happy with everything around me.

Serai wangi is like lavender. It has that natural scent that is around you all the time to a strange haunting degree. And then you can bring the scent in your head away.

You can pull a few stems up clean them and cut them into small pieces and place them in your kitchen to enjoy the scent. This was what I did last weekend.

Most of my friends are now growing their own serai wangi in their gardens now.....

More notes:

Serai Wangi Products may now be available throughout Malaysia.

Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus) is like our local lemon grass but instead it has red base stems. Its citronella oil is used in soaps, as an insect repellent in insect sprays and candles, and also in aromatherapy, which is famous in Bintan, Indonesia. The principal chemical constituents of citronella, geraniol and citronellol, are antiseptics, hence their use in household disinfectants and soaps. Besides oil production, citronella grass is also used for culinary purposes, in tea and as a flavoring.

Lemon Grass Oil, used as a pesticide and preservative, is put on the ancient palm-leaf manuscripts found in India as a preservative. It is used at the Oriental Research Institute Mysore, the French Institute of Pondicherry, the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage in Kerala and many other manuscript collections in India. The lemon grass oil also injects natural fluidity into the brittle palm leaves and the hydrophobic nature of the oil keeps the manuscripts dry so that the text is not lost to decay due to humidity.

Sources :
a. Lam Peng Sam
New Straits Times
b. wikipedia


wenn said...

interesting info..

Ah Ngao said...

there's a commercially growned serai which is not so scented and its bigger and fleshy.whereas the old type is skinnier and more strong in scent - ideal for cooking.i love goreng chicken with serai.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I am sure West Malaysians are more in the know!
There's another bit of info about bathing and some special effects but I did not put it down because I am not sure about its truths etc.
Thanks for visiting.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao
The edible type is a different one altogether.
Same family but different.
Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

The Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta (& probably elsewhere as well) provide a soap made by L'Occitane in France. It reminded me of the gentle, soothing scent of lemon grass. That was the first time I experienced lemon grass scented soap.

I loved it so much that I did what you expected. The chamber maids probably thought I ate cakes of soap for breakfast.

I just checked the ingredients on my last piece. And yes, it has "citronellol" and "limonene". I haven't seen the same brand on the market here.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Adirya Kiratas
I will check again the various and made soaps sold in Kuching soon. I heard there are some containing citronellol.
I heard elsewhere in West Malaysia many of such soaps are now very saleable.

Thank you for this exciting information.

I use L'Occitane products and I am sure one of its Citrus ranges has citronellol!!

:) :)


Coincidentally in the last few days I have been entertaining my former teachers who have been living in Atlanta for the last 30+ years!!

Anonymous said...

This is Justin.
My grandmother had a lot of serai wangi in her garden. It seemed that she and her relatives used them for some traditional medicine and also for bathing as you have mentioned. We kadang kadang forget that we have this crop . And also we do not use it. I really think that it is a new thing for people to say that it is a mosquito repellent.

Nowadays my cousins are crazy about it!!


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Justin
Yes lots of Kampong people have serai wangi. It is still quite a mysterious plant to many.
I think several generations ago the older folks knew how to use it better.
Thanks for dropping by.

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