Kitchai Ping: The Popular Limeade Drink Found all over Sabah
Kitchai Ping is a popular iced drink that can be found throughout Sabah, Malaysia. It is Sabah’s unique take on lemonade, using calamansi limes instead. Calamansi limes, also known as calamondin, are abundant in Sabah as they are native to Borneo and the Philippines. This refreshing beverage has become a common sight in kopitiams (coffee shops) and eateries, with even non-Chinese locals referring to it by its Chinese name.
The name “kitchai” originates from the Hakka dialect, referring to the green-skinned lime, while “ping” means it is served over ice. The preparation of Kitchai Ping is delightfully simple. A few calamansi limes are squeezed to extract their juice, and the spent lime fruits are added to the mug for further muddling to release additional flavors. Sugar and asam boi (dried sour plums) are then added. Hot water is poured into the mug, filling it about one-third of the way, to dissolve the sugar, rehydrate the asam boi, and extract some of the fragrant oil from the lime’s skin. Finally, plenty of ice is added to cool down the drink before serving.
The result is an incredibly refreshing beverage that invigorates the senses and stimulates the appetite. The lime’s acidity and the subtle saltiness from the asam boi complement each other perfectly, balancing the sweetness of the sugar. In addition to the traditional Kitchai Ping, there is also a variation known as Kitchai Ping Honey, which incorporates honey instead of regular cane sugar.
It is worth noting that there is a similar drink found in other Malaysian states called Jus Limau Kasturi Asam Boi in Bahasa Malaysia, or Kat Chai Suen Mui in Cantonese. These drinks share similarities with Kitchai Ping, showcasing the versatility and regional variations of citrus-based beverages across Malaysia. So, whether you find yourself in Sabah or exploring other parts of Malaysia, be sure to try these delightful lime and asam boi concoctions for a truly refreshing experience.