Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Penang is an outdoor lover’s dream with its sheltering, centuries old rain trees in a sprawling 30-acre resort and a tropical herb garden. The resort’s herb garden is one of the main attractions of the resort.
Chefs from the Spice Market Café and Feringgi Grill use the herbs in the herb garden to give a local, Asian twist to their cooking. The chefs use torch ginger, for example, in making the local delicacy laksa, while turmeric, cardamom, and greater and lesser galangal are the key ingredients for making a curry base.
The 140-square-metre (approximately 1,500-square-foot) garden contains a wide selection of herbs and spices, including some rare varieties such as sawtooth coriander, Indonesian bay leaf or daun salam and a sweet leaf known as stevia. Daun salam is rarely found outside of Indonesia, and it is a key ingredient for tenderising meat cuts. Stevia is often used as a sugar substitute for both diabetics and the health conscious.
Other plants and shrubs cultivated at the home-grown plot include lemon grass, Indian borage, bird’s eye chilli, wild pepper, black pepper, sweet leaf, Thai basil, kaffir lime, lime and screwpine leaf. Also to be found are robusta coffee beans, vanilla, cocoa, cat’s whiskers, Ceylon cinnamon, curry leaves, nutmeg and cloves.
The herb garden is located adjacent to the golf course and eco centre. Christopher Oh, the resort’s grounds and landscape manager, conducts garden tours every Wednesday at 11 a.m. for in-house guests.
“We are very fortunate indeed to be able to get some of our locally sourced ingredients fresh from our very own spice garden. This is one of the small steps the resort has initiated in order to make the resort more eco-friendly. Our guests are also very keen on our garden, as most of them love the outdoors. The spices we grow in our garden are the very same species that made Penang a famed port of call in the bygone, seafaring days of the spice trade almost three centuries ago,” said Amelia Lim, corporate social responsibility executive for Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Penang and Golden Sands Resort, Penang.