Thursday, February 3, 2011

Galangal Rhizome

When I go to the Seremban Wet Market or Family Store, I often see lots of Root type plants for sale. Sometimes they are marked with what the item is but most often not. Ginger Root looks different than Tumeric and Galangal and there are others to be explored too. But for now, about Galangal, because I finally bought some. This is not technically a root but a Rhizome. The name for it in Malay is Lengkuas. I always see these rhizomes in the corner of the refrigerated section at Family Store so on my last visit I asked one of the employees if it was ginger, and he said, "No!" Grabbed the piece I brought over to show him, walked back to the refrigerator and threw it back in the pile. So I nodded at him and went about picking out my fruits and vegetables. But I couldn't let it pass. I had to know what that was, so I went back to the pile, took a smallish piece and had it weighed. For 1.11 RM I got myself a piece of something marked "Lengkuas".

Image of Galangal I bought after I used the center part

I went home and started to search Lengkuas and found out that it is Galangal. Something I had never heard of. Galangal, as I've read, has different kinds of plants. I'm fairly sure what I bought is the Greater Galangal (Alpinia galanga) which is commonly used for cooking especially in Thailand. The Lesser Galangal (Alpinia officinarum) is the 'rarer' type often used for chinese medicine. Then again, there is a third type called Kaempferia Galanga that is also used for Chinese medicine and cooking... worse is that all of these are known by multiple names which often get confused.

The rhizome isn't that popular in the West. It can be found in Asian food stores often dried, or fresh rhizomes can be found in better markets.

So I checked online what to do with this. I tried putting some chopped up pieces in stir-fry. I thought it was good, it has a much more earthy and spicy smell to it than ginger. It reminds me of Christmas Potpourri or some kind of Christmas spice mix (at least that's what the smell evokes for me). R didn't like the stuff in his stir-fry that much. He said he thinks ginger is better.

I had extra Galangal left and I didnt know what to do with it, so I made Chai this morning with it. It's the first time I ever made Chai... and it was great. I followed Veg Recipes of India's blog recipe here except I didn't have any lemongrass, so I made it without. It was actually one of the best Chai's I've ever tasted, and I made it!!!! Very rich and spicy. I read on other sites on the web that Galangal when drank as a tea can give you a very relaxed feeling and hightened perception. I have to say, the stuff totally relaxed me and did do something to my perception. It was a very relaxing pleasant feeling after drinking that tea. I'll have to make some more.

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