Last Updated : Nov 21,2023

What is galangal, thai ginger? Glossary | Benefits, Uses, Recipes with galangal, thai ginger |
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Also known as
Galanga, Blue Ginger, Thai ginger

What is galangal, thai ginger?

The Galangal plant is a rhizome with culinary and medicinal uses. Galangal was known to the ancient Indians, and has been in the West since the Middle Ages .In its raw form, galangal has a citrusy, earthy aroma, with hints of pine and soap in the flavor. The galangals are basically fascinating ginger-like spices used in South East Asia .It is available as a whole root, cut or powdered. The whole fresh root is very hard, and slicing it requires a sharp knife. Galangal can be used like ginger, powdered, bruised or crushed. One slice of the root is equivalent to half a teaspoon of powder.

Greater galangal:

A tropical herbaceous plant of the ginger family reaching to about 2m (6 1/2ft). The blade-like leaves are long and wide, 50 x 9cm (18 x 31/2in); the flowers are greenish white with a dark-red veined tip. The fruits are red berries. The rhizomes are orange to brown and ringed at intervals by the yellowish remnants of atrophied leaf bases.

Lesser galangal:

Smaller than the greater as the name implies. The leaves are long and slender, roughly half the dimensions of the greater. The whole plant, rarely more than 1m (3 1/4ft) high, vaguely resembles an iris. The flowers are small, white with red streaks. The rhizomes are reddish brown, about 2cm (3/4in) in diameter. They are more pungent than the greater and are similarly ringed.
Kaempferia galangal: The rhizomes are reddish with a white interior. The plant is similar in appearance to lesser galangal.

Galangal Juliennes

With a sharp knife the galangal is sliced on four sides to create a thick rectangular stick, then cut lengthwise into approximately 3 mm (1/8 inch) slices. Stacking these slices and again cutting lengthwise into strips creates thin uniform square sticks called juliennes. It is applied to the preparation of meat or fish, especially in stir fry techniques.

Galangal Strips

Cut the galangal longitudinally to get thin or thick strips as per the recipe.

Crushed galangal

Crush the roots in a mortar and pestle to get coarsely crushed galangal.

Grated galangal

This requires grating the galangal in a hand held grater.

Shredded galangal

The rhizomes can be shredded coarsely in a shredded or manually, using a sharp knife. Cut the galangal in thin slices and then break up the pieces in shreds using fingers. Shredded collard is used as a garnish, in coleslaws or merely to reduce the cooking time.

Chopped galangal
Galangal should be washed very well since they tend to collect sand and soil. Put the washed and peeled galangal on a chopping board and chop them in small 1-2 inch sized pieces with a sharp knife. If you wish you can also cut them finely.

How to select galangal, thai ginger

While shopping, it can be available in two forms ~ Whole and Ground. Whole galangal should be firm, orangish brown in colour and without any soft spots or discoloration. Galangal powder should be free of lumpiness and checked for expiry date.

Culinary Uses of galangal, thai ginger in Indian Cooking

· The use of greater galangal is confined to local Indonesian dishes such as curries.
· Like ginger, galangal is a 'de-fisher' and so appears frequently in fish and shellfish recipes often with garlic, ginger, chilli and lemon or tamarind.

How to store galangal, thai ginger

Always store galangal under refrigerated conditions. Place in zip lock bags or freeze bags before storing them. The powders should be stored in airtight containers and used within a short space of time.

Health benefits of galangal, thai ginger

Galangal is rich in polyphenols which helps to reduce inflammation in the body and also boost our immunity to fight against various disease. These polyphenols may also act as cancer fighting agent. In Ayurveda it is known to ease digestive problems. 

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