Aren’t they pretty? I was picking for an Indonesian style curry – ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemon grass, chili, Vietnamese mint (and I added – Kaffir lime leaves and garlic as well) and I couldn’t resist the photo. Add this spice base to an oily sauce and you have a wonderful curry sauce for fish or meat or poultry or vegetables. Traditionally coconut milk is used for the creaminess, but that’s a bit out of my climate range and I avoid cans except for special occasions. I use the also traditional candlenuts or the less traditional macadamia nuts or cashews, or yoghurt, or just an extra splash of a nice flavoured oil in place of coconut milk to give the sauce its creaminess.
In my subtropical climate, all these grow easily. The ginger and turmeric die right back over winter, so much so that I have to mark where they are or I lose them. They re-sprout as soon as the weather gets warm and wet enough. I had to try out a few varieties of ginger to find one that worked, but now it is well established and comes back every year. They just like warmth and water. The Bishops Crown chilis are a medium hot chili growing on a short-lived perennial bush about 1.5 metres tall. They are fruit fly prone, but so prolific the fruit flies can have most of them, and the chooks just get an extra protein source. The lemon grass is a perennial clumping grass. I have to split the clumps every year or two or it outgrows itself. The Vietnamese mint is a very hardy perennial running herb. It runs, but not too far, so it doesn’t become a pest. It needs a severe pruning back every year too, or it outgrows itself. The kaffir lime is a small citrus tree, suited to pot growing if you don’t have a lot of room.
The whole set is very nicely suited to a small garden in the subtropics, and perennial herbs and spices like this mean you can magic dinner out of a fridge that is pretty well empty.