Galangal like ginger and turmeric, is a member of the rhizome family. Also known as blue ginger, galangal has been used as a flavouring spice in Europe since the Middle Ages, but is now more commonly used in Far Eastern cookery, especially Thai curries, stews, satays, soups and sauces. Fresh Galangal is not so easy to come by, but is readily available in the form of pastes and dried powders.
There are two varieties of galangal- Greater Galangal and Lesser Galangal. The different varieties vary in their hotness and flavour. In addition to being used as a spice in cooking, galangal has been used in Asia and the Middle East to make perfumes, snuffs, aphrodisiacs, and as flavour for condiments (including vinegar and beer).
Apart from its culinary uses, Galangal is extremely useful medically. Resembling ginger in its taste, appearance and effects, Galangal is an aromatic stimulant, used against nausea, motion sickness and rheumatism. It also possesses antibacterial qualities and is used for these properties in veterinary and homeopathic medicine.
Consuming Galangal regularly is said to aid the digestion process, and reduce constipation and vomiting. Galangal has also been known to improve blood circulation, especially in the hands and feet, thereby improving oxygen supply and nutrient supply to these parts. A mixture of Galangal and lime juice is used as a tonic for cough and cold. Additionally, Galangal powder is used against bad breath as a mouth freshener.
Here’s a cooking tip to keep in mind the next time you use Galangal: Incorporate it in your seafood or red meat dishes, it helps mask the fishiness of seafood and the heaviness of red meats, thereby making them taste cleaner, more delicate and more succulent.
Try out some of our delicious recipes that incorporate Galangal and benefit from its many medicinal properties:
Find your nearest Asian Store