Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bunga Kantan Flower

I was at the Seremban Wet Market (some photos and info: ) a couple months ago and one of the vendors had these beautiful pink bud flowers for sale. I asked the vendor if they were for decoration and he told me the pink part was used for cooking. I got enough out of him to understand that I could add it to the wok while making stir-fry something. So I bought a bud.

R was totally skeptical, but he allowed me to add a small amount of chopped up flower bud to a chicken and veg stir-fry we were making. And let me tell you, it was great. The bud gave the whole dish a great snappy taste. Zingy we thought. And compared the taste to ginger, but it wasn’t like the ginger we know. We loved it. I searched it online without knowing the name and finally found this Tropical Bloom website: talking about the Bunga Kantan Flower (Torch Ginger Flower) plant. And I was finding exciting Mango and Bunga Kantan Flower recipes like the one on for Kerabu Mangga Bunga Kantan

Prior to buying the house, I was too busy to go to the wet market, but I couldn’t wait to get hold of some more of this flower after we moved into the house and the kitchen was ready to actually cook in. But guess what? When were were going on the final inspection for the house, we noticed that the plant at the front of the house behind the carpark was getting really tall and had big pink flowers in bloom. R noticed one thin bud and mentioned that he thought it looked like the bunga kantan plant we had cooked. I agreed but wasn’t sure at the time. The plant has been continually in bloom with large pink flowers since we moved in! And today I went over to take a few photos for this site. I cross checked what I saw on Tropical Bloom and am happy to say we have a Bunga Kantan plant on our property!!!!!!!!!!!! Now all we need is the kitchen.

For more information check wikipedia under the plant's Binomial name Etlingera Elatior.


  1. Oh My! You do have a readymade bunga kantan plant, a free gift that comes with the house? I can even see from the 3rd picture that it has seeded. My plant has never seeded before and I have never seen real bunga kantan seeds. At home, we grow the bunga kantan for its flower buds which we heat raw - thinly slice the buds and mix in hot and sour dishes like assam laksa, tom yam dishes or mixed in 'kerabu' rice. It is used as a garnishing. Local people thinks it will improve one's appetite.

  2. You bunga kantan look very pretty. Wish we can grow it here too.

  3. Nostalgic and homesick for a Malaysian garden! Transplanted to the US, 10 years in NY and now 13 years in gorgeous San Diego. Through the years, I have established a pretty complete asian herb garden that amazes my Malaysian visitors. Yet only one herb has evaded me - the gorgeous Bunga Kantan. How I envy you! Just found a source here in the US for the seeds so wish me luck!

    I totally relate to your blog and your discoveries of Malaysian life - it is like a reverse mirror for me :) Enjoy your tropical paradise.

  4. Hi Mom on Blog,

    I think San Diego is one of the few places the Bunga Kantan might grow in the US. I was going to write good luck with the seeds because I haven't had luck with my Bunga Kantan seed experiments. But low and behold this morning when I went to the greenhouse to water the plants I saw two very very small sprouts in the Bunga Kantan pots I planted June 13th. They actually sprouted. Now I will watch how they grow. If your seed place doesnt work, I would be willing to send you some seeds. I have very fresh pods right now, if I sent them in the mail they would dry along the way, but might still be fresher than totally dry. Autumn Belle and I have found from other readers that the seed pods should be fresh not totally dried or old. And it might be true because the only seeds to sprout (the ones this morning) have been from a fresh pod. If you'd consider a mail trade just send me an email!

  5. Hi K,
    The Bunga Kantan seeds on the way to me from Florida. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will sprout as do not know how fresh the pods are!! They could not ship the Bunga Kantan Rhizome to me in CA :(. I will keep you posted. I will drop you an email directly to see what seeds might be on you wish list. Meanwhile, do drop by my blog to see what I am growing at