Put 'ulam' on your plate this Raya, get to know local herbs, says M'sian author

2/5/2022 6:15:00 AM

Many do not know what our common local herbs look like.

Arts, Dr Umi Kalthum Ngah

Many do not know what our common local herbs look like.

Author Dr Umi Kalthum Ngah finds poetic and practical routes to encourage people to grow, use and learn about local herbs

pegagapegaga,and many other local herbs.Di Laman HerbaDi Laman HerbaShe relates a story about asking her brother to get pandan leaves from her garden.Umi's 'Di Laman Herba' features illustrations of 26 herbs accompanied by a short pantun (Malay poem) describing each herb and its benefits. Photo: The Star/Zhafaran Nasib

Local herbs will also be used to spice up the special Hari Raya meals.in Malay.Umi hopes that readers would use her books as a guide to educate themselves about local herbs and maybe take the initiative to start their own herb garden. Photo: The Star/Zhafaran Nasib

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Hari Raya will be more meaningful this year, says Dr Wee Umi says her books 'Di Laman Herba' and 'Herba Selangor Warisan Rahsia Bonda' were written to introduce herbs to young children and encourage the concept of a community garden respectively.Harapkan burung terbang tinggi, punai di tangan dilepaskan.In a Facebook post Saturday (April 30), the Ayer Hitam MP said he visited the siblings aged 19, 12, and 6 to give them the items in preparation for Hari Raya while also handing duit raya.The Ayer Hitam MP said the program was done annually since he was elected to the role in 2004.

Photo: The Star/Zhafaran Nasib Sitting on the wooden swing tied to a tree branch near the edge of the jungle in Penang, the little girl relished the tickling of the pegaga (a local herb) beneath her feet. It is a warm memory and one filled with wonder. Kem si polan-polan, kem si anu anu. At that time, little Umi didn’t understand why her parents loved to eat pegaga, Decades later, Dr Umi Kalthum Ngah finds herself writing about pegaga and many other local herbs. Dr Wee added that Yong Peng assemblyman Ling Tian Soon had donated furniture to the three siblings earlier in the week. An academic at the Engineering Campus of Universiti Sains Malaysia for 34 years, Umi has since retired and obtained another degree, a Bachelor’s with Honours in Psychology. Dengan inflasi yang mendatang, cukup merisaukan. The grandmother of five is the author and illustrator of 30 fiction and self-help books.

Her latest, published late last year, are Di Laman Herba Herba Selangor Warisan Rahsia Bonda, her first foray into herbs and food. Tidak sekadar barang makanan tapi bersekali kelapa sawitnya dan bahan binaan. Di Laman Herba features illustrations of 26 herbs accompanied by a short pantun (Malay poem) describing each herb and its benefits. “Our youngsters need to be taught to at least recognise these herbs,” explains Umi, 63, as she talks about her books in a Zoom call from her home in Seberang Perai, Penang. Awal tahun ini sudah hampir 4, sekarang naik ke 4. She relates a story about asking her brother to get pandan leaves from her garden. “He brought back tiger lily leaves instead!” Although it seems funny, at the time Umi was puzzled. Ringgit kini merudum iaitu satu dolar Singapura jadi RM3.

Umi's 'Di Laman Herba' features illustrations of 26 herbs accompanied by a short pantun (Malay poem) describing each herb and its benefits. Photo: The Star/Zhafaran Nasib She then realised that many don’t know what pandan leaves look like. Faktor luaran pun sama, kesannya kepada kita. The festive season offers the perfect opportunity to introduce the new generation to the world of local herbs in the kitchen. Umi will be celebrating Hari Raya with her family in Bangi, Selangor. Bahkan populariti Presiden Indonesia, Jokowi sudah menurun kerana kenaikan harga. Her son who works in Mexico is visiting for a month.

Umi will be cooking a family favourite, her mother’s chicken rendang. Kini, PM dari UMNO, ada pula dari parti berkenaan bercakap, “kena buat Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-15 (PRU15) awal (daripada menunggu mandat berakhir 16 Julai 2023), kalau tak, susah partinya untuk menang. Local herbs will also be used to spice up the special Hari Raya meals. “Herbs are a must for meal times in my family,” says Umi. Itu haknya. She trained her grandchildren to acquire a taste for herbs by starting small. Her children and grandchildren grew up eating raw herbs, called ulam in Malay. Seorang ahli perniagaan import eksport berkongsi dengan saya semalam yang dia sebenarnya ada cukup keyakinan ekonomi negara akan berkembang seperti mana diramalkan.

She emphasises the importance of learning about herbs and even planting them ourselves. “If you buy ginger, you can’t buy the small amount that you intend to use. Berharap telahannya betul, namun berdasarkan kenaikan harga, dengan pembayaran tunai yang lambat dibayar, seolah satu petanda pula kemelesetan ekonomi akan bermula. You have to buy it in bulk. So, you may use a little bit and the rest would probably just go to waste. Kebiasaan kerajaan selalunya hujung tahun (2021) perlahan-lahan akan buat pembayaran kepada syarikatnya. Why not just plant it yourself?” she asks.

Umi hopes that readers would use her books as a guide to educate themselves about local herbs and maybe take the initiative to start their own herb garden. Bukan sahaja bab ekonomi, isu semasa juga sudah jadi bahan kecaman. Photo: The Star/Zhafaran Nasib She admits to loving art as a child but never having had the opportunity to pursue it when she got older. Inspired by the late Dr Gwen Smith who carved out a second career in writing later in her life, Umi decided to learn illustration after retirement. Ada yang bercakap, untuk urusan diplomatik, sepatutnya mesti ada hubungan tidak rasmi yang kuat, baru lancar hubungan dua hala. And who better to teach her than the best? She was lucky that renowned artist and illustrator, the late Yusof Gajah, took her under his wing. “Pak Yusof was a very thorough person. Mesti ada ‘prosedur’ semacam ini.

Every time I showed him a drawing, he would tell me to do it again,” says Umi, chuckling at her mentor’s perfectionism. It was Yusof who suggested that Umi start drawing herbs from her garden. Belum lagi reda, sudah masuk pula isu hakim yang dikatakan menghakis keyakinan imej kehakiman. Then came the inspiration to write and illustrate Di Laman Herba . He was also the reason for Umi’s decision to write the book in the form of poems.’ Dan kata mereka ini kalau dibuat survey hari ini dengan andaian tidak dikendalikan isu dengan baik, mustahil keputusan Pilihan Raya Negeri Melaka dan Johor diulangi dalam PRU nanti. He introduced Umi to an editor, Datuk Hajah Zaiton Ajamain who specialises in poems.

Zaiton liked the idea and was willing to help her with this project. Tidur sebantal, tapi mimpi lain-lain. Coincidentally, while Umi was illustrating and writing Di Laman Herba, she was approached by Hulu Kelang assemblyman Saari Sungib for a book project involving herbs. 'Herba Selangor Warisan Rahsia Bonda' (right) has articles, insights, recipes and tips about herbs. Feel-good factor tidak ada lagi. The book contains recipes by Bonda Siti Fatimah Mohd Nor, a traditional Malay midwife. Photo: The Star/Zhafaran Nasib “Saari Sungib contacted me and my friends at Pertubuhan Penulis Isu-isu Wanita about this and asked for my help,” explains Umi. Seorang dua diplomat asing ada yang mula bercakap sehari dua ini, oleh kerana Malaysia belum ada kestabilan politik, maka susah hendak dapat keputusan.

Saari had launched a few community gardens around Hulu Kelang and he wanted to encourage more people to develop community gardens in their neighbourhoods. Umi took on the project as the co-ordinator, working with several writers to bring the project to fruition. Jadi, untuk pastikan kerajaan yang stabil, hanya PRU jawapan terbaik pengakhiran kemelut politik ini. Herba Selangor Warisan Rahsia Bonda has articles, insights, recipes and tips about herbs. The book contains recipes by Bonda Siti Fatimah Mohd Nor, a traditional Malay midwife. Perang di Ukraine, diberi amaran oleh Presiden Bank Dunia, David Malpass suatu malapetaka kepada dunia kerana menyekat pertumbuhan ekonomi. Within the community, Bonda Fatimah is recognised as an expert on herbs.

Her recipes are valuable and they are her legacy; many of the recipes are for general good health and have been used by past generations. Harga makanan juga meningkat akibat perang. Umi says the book was written to encourage the concept of a community garden. Mainly aimed to help the B40 community, the gardens provide access to herbs or other vegetables that can be planted there. Russia dan Ukraine merupakan negara pengeluar makanan utama dunia dengan Ukraine adalah pengeluar minyak bunga matahari terbesar, diikuti Russia. The community garden is not just therapeutic for those who love to get their hands dirty and grow plants; it also allows neighbours to bond as a community. According to Umi, her team worked on this book during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, which provided unique challenges. Kata firma pelaburan JP Morgan, Russia dan Ukraine menyumbang sebanyak 28.

They had to wait until the lockdown eased just to get a photo of Bonda Fatimah. Umi hopes that readers would use her books as a guide to educate themselves about local herbs and maybe take the initiative to start their own herb garden. Bekalan Russia bagi komoditi itu bagaimanapun kini terbatas disebabkan sekatan meluas yang menyukarkan negara-negara lain untuk membeli produknya. Di Laman Herba .