Fish Sauce,Turmeric, Pineapples Make Khao Phat Sapparot Unique… Thai Pineapple Fried Rice….(泰式凤梨炒饭)

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INTRODUCTION

I am looking at the pineapple shell that I made yesterday for my Khao Phat Sapparot or Thai Pineapple Fried Rice. After the dinner, I am supposed to throw them away but I have kept it for one night and still rather unwillingly to throw it away. The reason is that it takes me sometime to “dig” out these nicely shaped pineapple shells..

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I am preparing this dish in a rush, really in a rush, started at about 6.00pm yesterday only after I issued my yoghurt marble cupcake. I have to get ready the food within 1 hour (including preparing all the ingredients, cutting of pineapples and stir fry the rice).  Of course not forgetting time captured the images for the post… and some hungry stomachs were waiting for my food. Luckily I have cooked the rice, defrosted my chicken, prawns in the afternoon, and that have speeded up the entire process. The images in the post were less than satisfactoryI am tired, hungry after I prepared the dish and I couldn’t take any more pictures as they were all gobbled up in our stomachs. I knew it was definitely unfair for me to ask hungry stomachs to hold on and wait for my picture taking.

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BRIEF INTRODUCTION

I grew up with white rice, pineapple, turmeric (kunyit) powder, fish sauce, cashew nuts in Malaysia……. But I am unsure why  PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE is considered as an authentic Thai cuisine. Probably because of its unique presentation. I did not have my fair share of pineapple rice until I travelled to Kuala Lumpur in mid 1990’s. Since then, I had always watched out for this unique rice dish whenever I dined in Thai restaurants.

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The name of this unique fried rice is called “khao phat sapparot and is usually served in a cut out pineapple shell. The ingredients can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, of course, there must be pineapples in the rice, otherwise, I do not think it will qualify to be called “pineapple” fried rice. I have prepared this based on what I have eaten and though subsequently before I write this report, I noted that Singaporean and Malaysian bloggers like to have raisins, meat floss and French beans as garnishes and ingredients. But in my humble opinion, that should be localized taste. I looked up at some Thai websites, apparently, these are not included.. Therefore, I would treated the above items as optional and will very much depend on reader’s individual preferences…

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As there are constant supplies of pineapples in Singapore and Malaysia with very reasonable prices, in this illustration, I have used fresh pineapples. For international readers, if you are not living in a tropical country, feel free to substitute the pineapples with canned pineapples. However, in my humble opinion, I found that this special fish sauce is important in the fried rice as the fragrance of the fried rice changes almost immediately after you add the fish sauce.

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Fish sauce is commonly used in many Chinese cuisines of the coastal regions of South China especially the Chaozhou cuisines. Per Wikipedia:

“Fish sauce is an amber-colored liquid extracted from the fermentation of fish with sea salt. It is used as a condiment in various cuisines. Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in numerous cultures in Southeast Asia and the coastal regions of East Asia, and featured heavily in Cambodian, Philippine, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_sauce)

The sauce is rather salty, therefore, any cooking that uses fish sauce shall not use any more salt or light soya sauce for seasoning. In another word, fish sauce is a substitution for light and dark soya sauces.

As this will be a rather long post especially on the description of how to prepare the fried rice, therefore I shall go straight to the point and explain along the way,

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 4 adults (All quantities here are for reference and you can always adjust to your preference)

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  • 1-2 pineapples or 1 can of pineapples cubes.

  • 3 cups Thai Jasmine Rice (cooked at least 1-2 hours before frying, leftover rice is acceptable)

  • 300 grams prawns (de-shelled and deveined – please refer to this post on Prawn Handling)

  • 300 grams chickens breast or drumstick meats (cut into small cubes)

  • 200 grams cashew nuts (not in picture and optional)

  • 2 tablespoons turmeric (curry) powder

  • 1 teaspoons coriander powder (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

  • Some chopped shallots

  • 1 tablespoon of corn flour for marinating prawns and meat (not in picture)

  • Some raisins (not in picture and optional)

  • Some pork floss (for garnish, optional and not in picture)

  • Some cooking oils for oil blanching the prawns and meat (not in picture)

  • Some coriander leaves for garnish (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Cooking The Rice

  • Wash the Thai Jasmine rice and put it in a container to let it cool adequately. If there are time, chill in the fridge. If you wish, use 1/4 cup less of water to cook the rice. For example, my normal rice requires 1 cup of water to cook 1 cup of rice, therefore, for this illustration, I have cooked 3 cups of rice using 2.75 cups of water. The main reason is to have a nicely shaped and not lumpy rice. Any uncooked rice will continue to be cooked in the stir frying process.

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Cutting Out of Pineapples

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  • Slightly wash the pineapples and “pull” or cut the head away. Use a sharp knife to cut open the pineapple and used the knife to cut around the inside of the pineapple flesh following the shape of the pineapple “casing” as closely and as deeply as possible. But make sure the knife will not go through the skin to the other side.

Note:

It is rather unusual to wash pineapple before de-shelling, however, for this dish, I will think that it is a must because there are lots of dirt and at time, some white powdery things stick to the skin. When you perform the cut out, all the dirt may stick to your pineapple flesh causing it to look dirty and unsightly.

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  • Cut across the centre and use a knife or spoon or fork to take out the flesh and set aside.

  • As there be quite a lot of pineapple flesh left attached with shell, you can use a smaller knife to cut the remaining flesh around the shell again.

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  • As these are the remaining flesh attached to the shell, it may become very small pieces with lots of pineapple juices. Chopped or minced and keep aside the juices and minced pineapple.

  • As for the big piece pineapple, cut into a 1 cm x 1 cm x 1 cm cube and set aside. At the end, you should have a rather deep pineapple shell or pineapple boat to serve the rice.

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Marinating the Meat and Prawns

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  • Marinate the chicken breast meat with some turmeric powder, half of the corn flour, some white pepper, drips of sesame oil (optional) and marinate for about 15 minutes. Use the same way for marinating the prawns. Set aside for next step.

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Stir Frying the Rice

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  • Have 1 cup of cooking oil in the frying pan, put the cashew nuts in the cold oil. Heat the oil under medium heat and stir fry the cashew nuts in oil until the cashew nuts is golden. Drain and set aside for later use. Note that this is a relatively fast process (about 1-2 minutes) and you have to have a close watch on it.

  • Use the same oil to blanch the prawns. Oil blanching of prawns will took approximately 1-2 minutes when the oil is hot. The prawns will continue to be cooked in the stir frying process later. Drain and set aside.

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  • Use the same oil to oil blanch the chicken cubes. Blanch for 2-3 minutes, drain and set aside.

  • Pour half of the oil to a bowl and use the remaining half of the oil to stir fry the chopped shallots until fragrant and start to turn brownish. Add turmeric and coriander powder and stir fry for 1 minutes.

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  • Add the rice, stir fry for a few minutes or until the rice are evenly coated with the turmeric powder. Add in minced pineapple and the juices, followed by the chicken cubes. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.

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  • Add in the prawns and cashew nuts, fish sauces and chopped coriander leaves. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add in pineapple cubes and stir fry 1-2 minutes.

  • Off the heat  and transfer the fried rice to the pineapple shell. Best served hot with freshly red cut chilli or bird eye chilli dip in fish sauce.

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CONCLUSION

You may have noted that there are no other flavour enhancer used in the fried rice. Fish sauces and curry powder, in my humble opinion play  critical parts in the whole rice dish to create a difference in taste with other fried rice. The pineapple cubes and pineapple juices have helped to sweeten the rice. The fried rice should not be lumpy but grainy and yellowish. The pineapple juices will also help to moisten the rice. Therefore, though the rice looked grainy, it is not difficult to eat because of the pineapple juices that is sweet and aromatic.

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Most ingredients are optional including prawns, meat, meat floss, raisins and cashew nuts.  I have never eaten one pineapple fried rice that have exactly the same ingredients beside pineapple. Feel free to modify yourself… Do you think all the fried rice in Thailand will have raisins and pork flosses…. as pork flosses are not considered as a local ingredient there..

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Hope you like the post today and have a wonderful week ahead.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 15 October 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

 

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Light Yet Sophisticated And Delicious Mango Puddings

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INTRODUCTION

I remembered I first have my mango pudding when I stayed in Hong Kong in 1995. It was rather popular be it in the hotel restaurants or in the fast food chains. For commercially packed mango puddings, it can be easily bought in the supermarkets. The dessert is light and can be served with a variety of regional fresh fruits. It is especially soothing and comforting after a heavy meal of oily or spicy foods. I loved its rich and creamy texture.

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MANGO PUDDINGS DEFINED

As per Wikipedia:

“Mango pudding is a Chinese dessert usually served cold. It is very popular in Hong Kong, where pudding is eaten as a traditional British food. Mango pudding originated in India and the recipe was introduced from the British in the 19th century. There is very little variation between the regional mango pudding’s preparation. The dessert is also found in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Macau and is often served as dim sum in Chinese restaurants.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mango_pudding)

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Make 6 desserts cups

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  • 200 ml of coconut milks

  • 200 ml of full cream evaporated milks

  • 250 ml of fresh milks

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 150 grams of sugar

  • 1 large mango (pitted and pureed)

  • 9 gelatine sheets (about 1.5 tablespoon gelatine powder)

As for the liquids, you can change between coconut milks, evaporated milks and fresh milks  but ensure that the total volumes add up to 750 ml. This means that you can use 750 ml of fresh coconut milks if you prefer. I usually like to dilute my coconut milk as I do not want the dessert to be overly creamy and for health conscious reasons.

Note that the colour of the final mango puddings will vary depends on the types of mango that you have. If evaporated milk were added, the colour will be creamy colour.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the mango purees

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  • De-skin and pitted (stoned) one large mango. Put the mango flesh in a food processor, blend it until puree form and set aside for later use.

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Preparing the puddings

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  • In a sauce pan, place all the liquids and sugar and heat it under medium heat until it boils. Once boiled, turn to lowest heat available.

  • Soak your gelatine sheets for 1 minutes and place the sheets into the sauce pan. Keep stirring until all the gelatine are dissolved. Off the heat but put on top of the stove to minimize the heat loss.

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  • In a big mixing bowl, use a whisk to whisk you egg yolk until light. Add the mango puree and whisk until well mixed. Sift the hot milk onto the mango puree and stir until well mixed.

  • Spoon the mixture into lightly oil pudding moulds or dessert cups and leave to cool. Chill the mango puddings in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (or until set), preferably overnight.

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CONCLUSION

Easy to do and tasty desserts. Classic yet sophisticated. You can serve with fresh fruits or on its own. Additions of extra evaporated milks will make it creamier. Best to present to your guest after a heavy, oily and spicy meal.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers.

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CCC – Cheesy Cassava Cake–A Modified Version of The Traditional Nonya Kuih Bengka Ubi

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INTRODUCTION

Tapioca or cassava is a staple root widely consumed in regions like Africa, Asia, Oceania and etc. It is easily propagated and commonly found in South East Asian countries. Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are the top three exporter of tapioca in the world.

Tapioca or cassava cake is a very common household cake of any races (be in Chinese, Malay, Indian or other races) in Singapore and Malaysia. However, in the Peranakan cooking, Kueh Bengka Ubi is one the most famous items in its cuisines.

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There are generally two methods of making cassava cake, by steaming or baking. Chinese preferred to have its cassava cake steamed, as soft as possible and served with shredded coconut (at times this is needed as the cake are so soft and smooth that it is shapeless). On the other hand, the Nonya preferred to bake the cake using charcoal stoves or ovens. Usually, the baked cassava cake have a slightly burnt crusty top and the body is yellowish in colour and texture is rather “elastic”. It is very aromatic with a mixture of fragrances from pandanus leaves, coconut milks and eggs.

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CHEESEY CASSAVA CAKE

This recipe is my own without making reference to any recipes in the internet. As usual, I have prepared based on what I think is workable, memories on the cake that I have tasted before and one or two attempts a few months back.

This cake is different in its texture and its taste. Besides the normal fragrance of the traditional cassava cake, the  cake have a rich and cheesy fragrance. In addition, as you can infer from the pictures above, the texture is moist but not soggy or sticky. In fact, you can cut it into any shape that you want.

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The incorporation of cream cheese had made the cassava cake smoother and creamier. It helps to heighten the flavour of the eggs, coconut milk, butter and the cassava original flavour.

I have used small sago balls to enhance the texture. Grated cassava, under high heat can turn very sticky and subsequently become very chewy. The additions of sago balls somehow will help to sooth the texture making it even smoother.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 100 g of sago balls – soaked in water (Volume of water should be about 2 times of the sago ball and note that the balls will expand)
  • 150 g of butter
  • 200 g of cream cheese
  • 250 g of granulated sugar

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  • 4 eggs
  • 200 ml of thick coconut milks
  • 1 kg of finely grated tapioca or cassava. You can buy in the market and grate it yourself. If you want to grate it yourself, you will have to use the food processor to chop it as finely as possible, and then you can proceed to use  a blender (instead of an cake mixer) to perform the following steps. You will need to put in your chopped cassavas, eggs, coconut milks and blend it to as smooth as possible).
  • Red and green (pandanus) colouring (optional) – I have resorted to the use of red and green colouring this illustration as I find that the traditional cake are rather dull in colour and I want my cake to look more colourful and appetizing.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degree Celsius.
  • Get ready a 8 inch x 8 inch baking tin. Slightly grease the tin with either butter or cooking oil. Dust some wheat flour if necessary.
  • In the mixing bowl, beat your butter, cream cheese and sugar using medium speed until evenly mixed. Note that the purpose of this step is not to let you have a fluffy cake like other cake recipes. The beating here is mainly a mixing step, a step to ensure that the butter and cream cheese are evenly mixed.

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  • Once well mixed, add in your eggs one at a time and followed by the coconut milk. You should only use low speed for this simple mixing purpose. Scrap out the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl to ensure that there are not cheeses sticking to the bowl.
  • At this stage, you will notice that the mixture become more and more watery which is normal and hence SPEED SHOULD BE LOW as long as mixing can be performed.

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  • Add in the grated cassava and soaked sago balls. “Beat” at the lowest speed possible. You will see that after 1-2 minutes of slow mixing, the liquid start to disappear as it was further absorbed by the sago balls.
  • Separate into approximately 4 equal portions. One portion with red colouring, one portion with green colouring and the other two portions maintain the original colour.

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  • Pour the uncoloured portion of the batter to the tin, followed by green and red portion. It is entirely up to readers as to what design you want your cake to cook like. For me , I have opted to have some simple big stripes design. As the batter is not very watery, it is rather easy for you to design your pattern.
  • Baked using 190 degree Celsius for about 30-45 minutes or until set. Until set means when you push the baking tin, the centre of the cake does not “vibrate”. Another test is that you insert a skewer in the centre of the cake, the skewer come out clean. However, as this is a cassava cake, cassava when hot can be slightly slimy and as long as you taste it is not raw, the cake is consider as cooked.
  • Leave the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Cutting of cake is  best done 3-4 hours after baking to ensure that centre of the cake is completely cool. As long as when you cut the cake, there are some cake stick to the knife, your cake is considered as not cool completely.

  • Serving suggestions – you can serve with shredded coconut with white sugar and hot tea or coffee.
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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is a modified recipe by incorporating cream cheese and sago balls to the traditional cassava cake. The main aim is to smoothen the cake texture and make the cake creamier along with the fragrance of eggs, coconut milk and cassava.
  • Resulting from the modification, this will be totally different from the traditional cassava cake that you may have tried. It is soft, slightly springy and with cheesy coconut fragrance.  The shredded sugar coconut with heighten the palate and reach another higher dimensions.
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  • It is easy to cut into your desired sizes and looks presentable in tea party as a snack items.
  • If you think that you are a professional Nonya cake baker, you should try and tell me what is your opinion. If you are new to pastry making, this is one item that will not ruin your confidence.

Hope you LIKE it and have a nice day. Cheers

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National Flower Series – South East Asia 6- Myanmar

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National Flower Series – Myanmar or formally known as Burma

It is known that there are two national floral identities for Myanmar. One is Thazin and the other is the Paduak.

Thazin (Bulbophyllum auricomum)

In Burma, the the most beloved orchid of Myanmar is Thazin, (Bulbophyllum auricomum) which blooms with tiny white flowers in graceful sprays that grow out of a small, bright-green, pear shaped bulb. It symbolizes royalties and purities.

Found in Thailand, Burma, Sumatra and Java in lowland seasonal forests as a miniature to small sized, hot to warm growing epiphyte with 3.8 to 3/4″ spaced, ovoid-oblong pseudobulbs carrying 2 to 3, apical, deciduous, rather thin leaves that are often not present at blooming which is on an arching, basal, to 8 3/4″ [22 cm] long, racemose, many [25] flowered inflorescence occuring in the late fall and early winter and has fragrant flowers

This rare, dainty and almost extinct species of orchid is beloved for its simple yet delicate beauty and its remote habitat high up in mountain trees. The likability of the orchid can be seen in the Burmese cultures via songs and the literatures.   

At some point of time, they were so rare that no commoner however wealthy was allowed to wear it in the hair. It was only meant for queens and princesses and special envoys had to go deep into the jungles in Rakhine Yoma mountain ranges to collect some of these orchids for ceremonial purposes. Nowadays, people grow it easily with bulbs collected from the jungles but even then, it is still an expensive flower that brides drape around their high chignons. 

Padauk (Pterocarpus Indicus)

The Padauk (Pterocarpus Indicus) blossoms in tiny fragrant yellow-gold flowers after the first showers in April, coinciding with the Myanmar New Year festival. and the Water Festival (Thingyan). Once in bloom, the entire tree turns gold overnight. 

Due to the large concentration of yellowish flowers in the trees during the blossoming period, Padauk is often confused with Thailand’s National Flower, Cassia Fistula or Golden Shower Trees. Though both trees belong to the Fabaceae family nut Padauk belongs to the Pterocarpus Genus whereas Thailands Golden Shower Trees belong  to the Cassia Genus.

The Myanmar people regard the Paduak tree as the symbol of strength and durability. It was also being featured in the love sonnets fo a 16th century poet king and attached the elements of youth, love and romance to the flowers. The flower plays an indispensable part in traditional and religious ceremonies. The Paduak can be found throughout the country. The wood of the tree is also used for making furniture.

The flowers were worn as beautiful adornments during important racial festivities.

Source : adopted from www.mianmarburma.com and http://www.sanooaung.wordpress.com

National Flower Series – South East Asia 9- Thailand

National Flower Series – Thailand – Cassia Fistula

Cassia fistula,(腊肠树) is the national tree of Thailand, and its flower is Thailand’s national flower. It is believed that the the flowers’ yellow color were being associated with the color of Buddhism and the royal family.
It is known as Ratchaphruek, the golden shower tree and other names, is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to southern Asia, from southern Pakistan east through India to Myanmar and south to Sri Lanka. It is associated with the Mullai region of Sangam landscape. It is a popular ornamental plant and is an herbal medicine.

source: Wikipedia