Ever wonder why you’re so addicted to Thai soups and curries?
There’s a zingy, spicy, fragrant, herbal note in there you just can’t put your finger on. Unless of course, you’ve seen a slice of what looks like ginger floating around.
It’s not ginger, it’s galangal, and while you might not care until the next craving hits, it’s a secret ingredient you should get to know better.
Galangal, also known as Siamese ginger, is indeed a member of the ginger family known as Zingiberaceae (zingy!). Its skin is smoother and paler than ginger root’s, the interior ranges from white to yellow to pink, and its flavour is stronger and more astringent.
Kaffir Lime Leaves
The leaves are used in Vietnamese cuisine to add fragrance to chicken dishes and to decrease the pungent odour when steaming snails.
The leaves are used in Indonesian cuisine (especially Balinese cuisine and Javanese cuisine) for foods such as soto ayam and are used along with Indonesian bay leaf for chicken and fish. They are also found in Malaysian and Burmese cuisines. It is used widely in South Indian cuisine.
How are they used?
To prepare it for soup or curry, peel off the skin and grate or mince it for a stir-fry.
You can also add whole slices to your dish, but remove them before serving as the fibrous root itself is tough and inedible.
Health Benefits Of Galangal (Amazing)
Prevent inflammatory and Arthritis. Some studies have shown that galangal contains anti-inflammatory substances called gingerols which inhibit prostaglandin synthesis and inhibit histaminic also serotonin pathways. This anti-inflammatory response of galangal can serve the benefit in reducing the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition of joint disorder which caused by inflammation and as an effect of long-lasting autoimmune disorder.
Relieves Discomfort which caused by the digestive problem. The dietary fiber and phytochemicals in galanga helps to increase the process of food mixing in the stomach. It also helps to reduce salivary and digestive acid secretion which gives a problem to people with ulcers. Consuming galangal can give a comfortable feeling to an individual’s stomach who suffering ulcer. It is also believed galanga can prevents anorexia and abdominal pain. In Java island, Indonesia the freshly grated galangal is given on empty stomach by adding a little salt. It is believed that grated galangal can cure enlarged spleen and relieve discomfort feeling in the stomach. The Strong aromatic odour of galangal can treat nausea ( sensation of unease and discomfort in the upper stomach which can cause vomiting). Besides those effects, galangal also supposed to have a carminative effect which relieving flatulence. There is no specific recommended dosage of galangal but 1 gram of tuber can be used as carminative.
Get rid of sea, motion, and morning sickness. By chewing some galanga flesh, it is believed can cure motion sickness. The aromatic oil in galanga can stimulate and calm the nerves. A pregnant woman usually experiences morning sickness. Drinking brewed galangal slices with warm water and honey can help to relieve morning sickness.
A cure for Diarrhoea. Galangal has an antibacterial effect which can get rid of pathogen bacteria and cure diarrhea. A study by Sunilson, J. A. J. et al (2009) showed the antimicrobial activity of various extracts of galangal to some strain of foodborne pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella enteritis, Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter jejune, Bacillus cereus which is the cause of diarrhea.
Prevents tumour and cancer. Galangal has a host of many antioxidants substance which helps to minimize DNA damaged caused by free radicals and another toxin component that enter the body. A study by UK researchers found that galanga extract has anticancer activities according to experiment with people who suffering from lung and breast cancer. The most antioxidative component in galangal who fight with free radicals is flavonoid called Galangin. Galangin can modulate the activity of the enzyme and suppresses chemicals genotoxicity. It showed that galanga is a very potential herb which acts as anti-cancer. Other research also reported that the transconiveril diacetate, acetoxy chavikol acetat and asetoksi eugenol cetat can inhibit the pathway of Xanthin enzyme synthesize which trigger tumour development.
Lowering Blood lipid and cholesterol. Some researchers from China reported that galanga extract could potently inhibit fatty-acid synthase. Galanga supposed to inhibit the mechanism of fat synthesis by its flavonoids, such as galangin, quercetin, and kaempferol. While researchers in Korea also showed that galanga extract significantly lowered the Triglyceride and cholesterol.
Preventing Heart Disease and Cardiovascular problem. In blood, circulatory system galangal reduces the cardiac contractions, cardiac output by increasing the blood supply to the gastrointestinal system and other vital organs. In ayurvedic or Indian medication, galangal often served as heart disease traditional drug. Galangal is found as the best home remedy to prevent heart stroke in German-speaking countries such as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Even Dr Strehlew, the author of Bingen’s medicine mentioned galangal as a lifesaver from heart attacks. He is the one who promotes the usage of galangal in modern medication especially in promoting healthy heart to a younger generation.
Relieve Asthma. Galangal also has an important role in maintaining a healthy respiratory system. Galangan which has been used as a drug has an antispasmodic effect that reduces the sputum (Kapha) and dilates the bronchioles in order to alleviate asthma. It can also be used for speech defects such as dysarthria, stammering and aphasia.
Reduce urination in polyuria or other urine disorder. In the urinary system galangal slightly reduces the ability of urine production and used as a treatment for polyuria and other urine disorder.
In Genital system-It is used for impotence. It is said that keeping a piece of galangal in the mouth can promote sexual desire. In Arabian countries, galangal is used as an aphrodisiac and people in South-East Asian countries often use galangal in the treatment of menstrual disorders.
Protect the body from cold. External application and consumption of galanga powder reduce hyper respiration and coldness due to circulatory failure. An experience of a doctor who traveled in Nepal said that galangal is immediate reliever against a cold by improving blood circulatory and produce “warm feeling”
Relieve coughs, sore throat and clearing sound. Galangal has expectorant action and is useful in many respiratory problems, especially for children who suffer from whooping cough. In India, people mix the galangal extract with hot water to relieve chest pain, sore throat and clearing voice. Just mix some galangal powder or brew the galangal slices in boiled water with lime. It can be a tonic which can relieve coughs and throat problems.
Strengthen hair roots and promotes healthy hair. The cardiovascular effect of galangal also shows the benefit to the growth of hair root. Healthy cardiovascular effect of galangal improves the transport of oxygen to the hair root and enhance the strength of the hair.
Strengthen Immune System and Anti-HIV. Research has proven that polysaccharide extract of galangal which solved in hot water possesses a stimulating effect on the reticular endothelial system (RES) cell development and increased the number of peritoneal exudates cells and spleen cells which play role in body immune system. A study by Ye Ying Li BaoAn in 2006 reported that 1′S-1′-acetoxychavicol acetate which isolated from galangal extract has Anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and blocking the replication of the virus.
Reduce blood sugar level. Galangal extract consumption produced a significant decrease in blood sugar level. It has been proved by study to carried out the effects of Alpinia galanga rhizome in normal rabbits, ( study by Akhtar, M. S. et al in 2002, hypoglycemic activity of Alpinia galanga rhizome and its extracts in rabbits)
Reduce symptom of osteoarthritis. In a study which used randomized double-blind placebo controlled, the concentrated extract of galangal has been found to reduce symptoms and pain significantly in patients with osteoarthritis and suffer severe knee pain.
Protect the liver from the toxicity of the chemical. Supplement of galangal is also found has a potential effect to protect the liver against chemical side effect such as the usage of paracetamol. So adding some galangal to your dish is one of the best ways to protect heart and liver.
Prevent Alzheimer disease and mental fatigue. Alzheimer, a damage in brain function as one symptom of dementia is a devastating disease. Galangal has a potential effect in preventing Alzheimer after some researcher found that galangal herb enhance cognitively and boost brain memory (Singh et al, 2011)
Increasing Appetite. Galangal herb can also be used to increase appetite and this is why some dish which uses galangal is more tempting to be eaten and the effect of galangal in calming the digestive system can make someone enjoy the meal well.
Cure some skin problem and allergy. The roots of galangal can directly be used to rub some skin area which infected by fungi. In Java, an island of Indonesia, people used to rub galanga in a white spot area caused by skin fungus which people in Indonesia called “panu” with galanga slice. It is also known that galanga can be used to cure other skin problem such as eczema, burn and itchy skin by applying the flesh on skin 2 – 3 times a day. If you have an allergy to shrimp, fish or any other seafood and it makes your skin itchy, drinking galangal tonic or tea every day can slowly remove your allergy.
Keep the skin remain young. Maybe you did not know that some cosmetic industry uses galangal extract in the effort to create the anti-aging formula. It's not a big deal since we know that antioxidant that contained in galangal has a great impact to prevent free radicals entering the body which also promotes aging. Vitamin C in galangal also play role in skin cells rejuvenation and keep the skin away from aging.
Get rid of Acne and acne scar. If you having a problem with acne, galangal can be a home remedy to remove acne and dark spot. Drinking galangal juice or rubbing the galangal flesh on the skin can slowly reduce acne and skin dullness.
Remove dandruff and scalp problem. Antifungal effect of galangal can be applied to the almost area of skin which infected by fungi none the less the scalp. Fungi can infect the scalp and resulting dandruff. You can directly rub the it on the scalp or mix some grated galangal with olive oil then spread it on the area of the scalp which infected by fungi.
24. Relieve Catarrh
Catarrh is a condition of excessive mucus production in nasal cavity which caused by inflammation of the mucous membrane. Catarrh is a symptom when a person suffers from cold or flu. The powder of galangal can be used as snuff that helps to get rid catarrh. Just solve 15-30 grams of galangal powder into hot water then sniff it.
25. Reduce ear pain. Sometime infection in ear disturb our activity and it can be severe if we just let the pain remain in ear. Galangal can help to reduce pain in the ear which. caused by inflammation. Just greate some galangal and squeeze the liquid from it then drop it to your ear.
27. Keep the body stamina. In indonesia people used to mix galangal with other ingredients such as garlic, pepper, tamarind and etc to produce tonic which they called “jamu”. This tonic is believed can keep body stamina if being consume three times a day and help to relives muscle fatigue.
Just like ginger, galangal or Lengkuas ( Indonesia) and Kha (Thailand) is known to be used in many culinary purposes. If you ever tasted Indonesia or Thai curry and you found a piece of ingredients that looks like ginger floating in curry and soup, yes its galangal and we should know how to consume and gain the benefits of galangal. Check these tips below :
Galangal is commonly found in fresh, dried or powder. The aroma of galangal is more likely pine with a pungent taste similar as the combination of ginger and pepper.
There are two ways to add galangal into your dish, by slicing or crush it. Galangal is more dense than ginger so it will be harder to grind and slice and need longer time to be cooked. Usually, people mix galanga and crush it with garlic, shallot, and chilies to give flavour in meat, fish or seafood curry.
Before using galangal in your dish make sure you peel off the outer layer of galangal because the outer parts is inedible.
You can store fresh galangal in cool dry place for about two weeks and dont forget to keep galangal moist if you keep it in the fridge.
Galangal powder does not provide similar taste to fresh ones but many people use it instead of fresh galangal because of some inconvenience.
If you purchase dried galangal, you need to soak it in hot water before use it.
The best way to get the effect of fresh galangal is by grate it and squeeze the liquid then mix it with honey to give sweetness and better flavour.
Some medication using phytochemical compound from plant usually trigger side effect but there is no contraindication which reported based on galangal usage and no data found in the case of consuming galangal during pregnancy and lactation. So why not start to put galangal in your dish to add the taste and benefits to your health. In the South Asian market, you can easily find it fresh because almost all the area of South Asian countries especially Indonesia and Thailand can cultivate the plant while in America, galangal can be cultivated in the hotter area such as California and Florida. You can also grow your own plant because it's easy to grow galangal because it can grow in low land on 1200 m from sea surface with adequate sun exposure. Just stick the bud of galangal plant into the ground, it can grow fast in during a couple of weeks. Isn’t it interesting?
As with any herbal remedy, consult a medical professional before making a major change in your supplement schedule.