Ingredient Spotlight – The Blue Pea Flower/Bunga Telang

This is a special post as I like to introduce all of you to a special ingredient that I have been searching for quite some time now. But now that I finally found it, I like to give it the attention that it deserves. For those of you that grew up under Nyonya traditions, you would be familiar with this flower and probably have it in your own gardens. The Blue Pea Flower or Bunga Telang grows as a vine or creeper, it clings on to other plans or climbs up fences.

The flower up close

I been going around my hometown in Penang, asking around at early morning markets, the uncles/aunties that sell the Kuih that uses the natural blue dye from this flower and nurseries. But I had very little luck as I gotten comments like :

Ah boy, this flower is now very hard to find as people these days use blue colouring instead of using the flower – Auntie from Nursery

I manage to get some from the botanical gardens, just go there and snip some! – Uncle selling the Kuih

fence covered with Bunga Telang

I laughed a little when the uncle implied that I should go steal some. But I wasn’t a thief and that’s not how I wanted to acquire the flowers. Me and my mom decided to drive to a nursery near our house and the uncle there pointed me and my mom to a vine covered fence opposite the road. And there it was, the blue flower that I been searching for is only 5 minutes drive away from my house, how convenient! 🙂

The blue dye of this flower is fantastic in 2 ways, one for natural food colouring which beats artificial colouring any day! Two for health reasons. There are only 2 types of food that I know that uses the dye from this flower, they are Pulut Tai Tai and Nasi Kerabu. The blue dye  adds a totally new dimension to the dish and makes it the more appetizing!

Nasi Kerabu - Vibrant colours on a plate

This little blue flower isn’t just a natural dye for food, it even promotes good health! Here is something I heard about how the flower can be healthy from a friend’s mom  who is a nyonya :

The blue flower also known as the butterfly pea or Clitoria Ternatea can be made into a tea drink and its very good for eye sights and removing phlegm. – Mrs. Song

I look forward in bringing you the Pulut Tai Tai recipe in the near future that uses this beautiful little flower.  Please sign up for updates if you would like to receive updates on new posts 🙂
Hope you enjoyed reading!

R. Deou


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  1. #1 by panda on July 26, 2011 - 8:33 am

    now i know where the blue color rice got the color from

  2. #2 by Mojojo on July 26, 2011 - 12:57 pm

    Fantastic post Deou! Even my mum visits your blog 😉

  3. #4 by eftychia on August 4, 2011 - 4:39 am

    This is a lovely post. The photos are so beautiful!!

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