A little over a year ago, when our house helper lady came to work, she brought us some stalks of thebu. She does this sometimes – brings edible vegetation. Miscellaneous leaves or stalks of this or that. I don’t mind – I’m up for the adventure. 🙂
The thebu she brought is Costus speciosus. That’s basically a type of ginger plant. The variety she brought is not ornamental, but edible, and we planted the stalks.
These ginger leaves – called thebu here – have a faint gingery taste and were actually quite tasty. She made it into a sambol – mixed with freshly shredded coconut, lime juice (or perhaps a sour tangerine variant called norang), salt, and onion. Very nice. The flavour was pleasantly surprising and definitely something we’ll willingly have again. 🙂
Never thought I’d eat ginger leaves. 🙂
A year later, and my thebu patch is quite established, although briefly damaged by the papaya mealybug that’s infested so many plants here. But the papaya mealybug wipes off easily enough from these leaves, so it made sense to salvage what was still edible and make it into a sambol.
- 2 cups thebu, sliced finely across the leaf
- 2 green chillies, minced
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 lime, juice of
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Maldive fish flakes
- 1 cup coconut, freshly shredded
- Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Serve immediately.
Sri Lankans will insist that all sambols taste better if they’re mixed with your hands. They’re probably right. My mother in law squeezes the lime juice onto the Maldive fish flakes, lets that sit for a minute or two for the fish flakes to absorb the liquid, then sort of mashes the Maldive fish flakes in with the green chillies and onion, then with the coconut and then the thebu or other leaves. This makes the Maldive fish flakes softer and also ensures the flavours are thoroughly combined. And I do it the same way. 🙂