Butterfly Pea Flower (Bunga Telang)

I am truely excited to come across the butterfly pea flower and the powder in Australia. I have added it to my collection of ingredients for nonya cuisine.

Not only do I have the dried flower, but the powder itself. Remember, I wrote about the shrimp paste in the powder form; this is definitely a huge game changer, as it will cut down the preparation time tremendously when cooking.

The butterfly pea flower is also called Bunga Telang in Malaysian or Indonesian; it means clear vision, or is known by its scientific name Clitoria ternatea.

You can find this plant easily in Malaysia. It can grow the whole year round in warmer temperature. Outside my parents’ home, my mum has the plant growing all over her fence, and sometimes it attracts people from the neighbourhood to stop by and “uninvitingly pluck” the flowers.

We use this flower for its blue colouring by extracting the natural colouring from the flower for the various Nonya kuihs, such as pulut Inti, pulut tatai and Nonya Chang, or even for our everyday rice.

Blue (rice) nasi lemak @MyBlueTea

How to extract the colouring from the flower?

There are a few ways to do it.

If you use the fresh flowers, once you remove them from the plant, remove the calyx (the green part of the flower). According to my mum, that part of the flower has no blue dye and so it may “disrupt” or counteract with the proper blue colouring from the flower. (more research on this).

So all you have to do is soak (not boil) the flowers in a cup of boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes for the blue dye to seep through the flower and into the water.

If you do not need the flowers immediately, you can dry the flowers and keep them in the refrigerator. To dry – you first place the fresh flowers under the sun until completely dry. Once they are dried, you can keep them in the fridge for a long time.

So to extract the colour from the dried flowers, some people say you boil the flowers until they start releasing the blue colour. However, you can also pour hot boiling water onto the flowers instead of boiling. Give it a go and see which method suits you.

Bunga telang powder

Butterfly pea powder in water

Now with the bunga telang powder, things get such easier. We just need to add water to the powder and you get the blue colours straight away. Fast and easy! Check out the video below.

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If you are looking for natural colouring, you can now get the bunga telang / butterfly pea powder/flower from the online store.