Are you one of these people who can binge on street food shows of the south East Asia for hours at a stretch? I for one can watch such shows at a stretch, often wondering what they make those foods with, the ingredients that they use, or what that yummy looking salad or a meant on a stick would taste like. When the host of these shows swallows piping hot bunds and other such delicacies I cannot help but think to myself what ingredients do these people use that makes the food so tasty? I often catch myself wondering what makes their skin so clear, glowing and tight and then look at the kinds of foods they eat, the raw fresh organic vegetables that they consume without having to cook them and I think… hmm… maybe the food they eat is what helps them get that amazing glow.
Unfortunately, in big cities of India, it is possible to find these fresh ingredients but at extremely expensive rates, making it impossible for the common public to enjoy these fruits of nature.
However, in the north eastern states of India, it is possible to find these ingredients that we see in international food shows readily available to the common public. Today, we talk about one such ingredient that is a staple in the Thai as well as Vietnamese cuisines, that is, the Galangal root. Now this root looks very similar to the ginger that we consume, but in fact is very different in taste as well as chemical composition.
In India, one may find the root to be grown mostly in North East of India and in some parts of South India. It is unjust to not mention the fact that a state in the north east of India is home to some of the best quality, variety and high yielding plants, spices and condiments. What makes this a mention worthy point is that some of these spices and condiments and herbs fetch the highest value in the markets both national and international compared to its counterparts. For example, the Lakadong Turmeric is valued thrice as much as the turmeric that grows in say Bihar or other states of India, so why is that the case?
Turmeric is a health uplifting spice or a condiment that is a vital part of every Indian household. These medicinal benefits come about because of the curcumin (a compound that contains all the medicinal elements of turmeric) content of the turmeric. Now if the turmeric that grows in Bihar has a curcumin content of 2-3%, the Lakadong turmeric of Meghalaya has 8-9% of curcumin content making it extra healthy and valuable.
The high amount of nutrition and other health benefits in these plants come from the super nutritious and lush soil of the state of Meghalaya that is able to provide all these nutrients to its plants. In the same way, the galangal root that you may find elsewhere in India is incomparable to the galangal that grows in Meghalaya and the North eastern states with its rich Himalayan soil, in terms of nutritional value and health benefits.
What is the galanagal root?
The Galangal root, also known by its scientific names- Alpinia galangal and Alpinia officinarum belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. Now you may mistake it for Ginger because it basically looks like the same thing, but it is much more different than Ginger in terms of main detailed aspects including color, flavor, health benefits etc.
The herb is native to Indonesia and South East China and has been a part of many cultures and their medicinal sciences ever since it was found. Historical texts and even Ayurveda along with Chinese medicine texts all have a mention of this root and its benefits and the potions that can be made using these ingredients.
Ayurveda and Chinese medicinal sciences particularly mention the sue of the galangal root to treat ailments such as inflammation, diabetes, ulcers, eczema, diarrhea, stomach aches, colds flus, nausea, ulcers and other smaller chronic illnesses.
Did you know? The seed of the galangal root can easily be used and is actually literally used as a dental cleanser, laxative, mouth freshener and a digestive aid? Even the tender shoots of the root along with the small flowers are used in curries as an aromatic spice and as a vegetable side dish. The root itself also called the rhizome is a rich source of essential oils and as a spice in salads or curries elevating the entire dish with its aroma and semi-pungent flavors.
In china, the galangal root because of its image that is similar to that of Ginger is also called Liang-Tiang or mild ginger and much like ginger the root is known to contain a lot of terpenes, essential oils, polyphenols, flavonoids etc.
The root itself is a sustainable root because most parts of the entire plant can be used to make medicines or in the kitchen while cooking foods. The oil, the seed, the leaves and the shoots along with the root itself is all utilized for this purpose.
There are essentially four types of galangal root:
The Sand Ginger, the Chinese ginger, the greater galangal and the lesser galangal. Oils that are extracted from the root are used for making oils that further become useful in perfumery and incense making along with medicinal purposes. The aroma of the root can have very fresh, earthy, pepper like, mustardy, spicy as well as sweet tones. This is precisely why it is an essential cooking ingredient while making fresh salads because of the olfactory benefits of the root.
Nutritional Value of Galangal Root:
Talking of the nutritional and health benefits of the root, it is a very rich source of sodium, iron, vitamin C and vitamin A along with fiber. The flavonoids of the roots contain phytonutrients such as quercetin, beta-sitosterol, galangin and emodin.
Health Benefits of the root:
The root is known to be a treatment to the following ailment:
The juice of the root can either be applied directly on the skin to treat irritation, rashes and redness, or the essential oil can be used to mix with other ingredients to make a face serum that can be applied as part of one’s skin care routine.it can even be applied to acne or skin burns this is primarily done to kill any bacteria that may cause infections on wounds and fissures.
The spice is known to improve the supply of blood and the heart and other fluid circulations in the body. It prevents heart diseases and also acts as a pain relieving agent.
The root is known to host a large amount of anti-oxidants that helps fight free radicals in the body to help prevent serious illnesses such as cancer… By detoxifying the blood and the body, it also helps prevent the skin from ageing.
Boosts sperm count:
Now as much as this is a touchy topic for people, the root is a brilliant remedy for male issues like a low sperm count or premature ejaculation and so on. In a scientific study, it was shown that the root is effective in improving spermatogenesis and such related parameters. It also improves sperm mobility in cauda epididymis (the site where mature sperms are stored) affecting better fertilization.
So now that you have read so much and known so much about the root and its benefits… will you be using it anytime soon? If it’s not freshly available to you, you can always find galangal root products on the NEORIGINS website to try and avail some of these health benefits.