Sunday, June 28, 2009

Galangal - the unknown ginger

The first thing my cooking students ask me, when looking at the list of ingredients, is "what in the heck is galangal?" It is a white brown root that looks like ginger bcause it comes from the same family. When you slice its side, you will see a clear white color and smell that's different from anything else! It is the most common ingredient in Thai cuisine. Galangal is grown most Southeast Asia countries. Its used in many Thai dishes such as Tom Kha, Tom Yum, and many curry paste.

I prefer fresh galangal root for cooking. Luckily, the weather in some parts of California will permit growing it in your garden. Galangal loves tropical weather though, so don't expect the best results here. Galangal was first harvested for use in cooking and medicine in China and the Java Island of Indonesia. It traveled to Europe in 1098 and was used to treat everything from deafness and heart disease to indigestion. There are many countries using galangal such as in Turkey where they use it in tea and Arab nations, as a stimulant for their horses. Europe and Asia used it as a appetite stimulant and aphrodisiac, Russia of course used it for making liqueurs.

Galangal is commonly prescribed today by homeopaths, veterinarians, and other health care professionals and natural healers. It has been found effective as a remedy for the following ailments and conditions:

* indigestion and stomach complaints
* motion sickness and nausea
* ulcers and inflammation of the stomach
* rheumatism
* colds, flu, and fevers
* dementia
* bad breath
* diarrhea
* poor blood circulation
* tumors

To learn more about Thai food, try my Thai Cooking Classes

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