Alpinia galanga, a plant in the ginger family, is an herb used in cooking in Southeast Asia. It is one of four plants known as galangal and is differentiated from the others with the common name greater galangal, lengkuas, or Thai ginger. The galangals are also called blue ginger.
Alpinia galanga is called laos in Indonesian and is the most common form of galangal used in cooking. In the Philippines, it is known as langkawas. In Manipuri, it is known as kanghu. In Myanmar, it is called pa de kaw (ပတဲေကာ). In Cambodia, it is called romdeng (រំដេង).
The plant grows from rhizomes in clumps of stiff stalks up to 2 m in height with abundant long leaves that bear red fruit. It is native to Southeast Asia. A. galanga is the galangal used most often in cookery. The robust rhizome has a sharp, sweet taste and smells like a blend of black pepper and pine needles. The red fruit is used in traditional Chinese medicine and has a flavor similar to cardamom.
The rhizome is a common ingredient in Thai curries and soups, where it is used fresh in chunks or cut into thin slices, mashed and mixed into curry paste. Indonesian rendang is usually spiced with galangal.
Under the names 'chewing John', 'little John to chew', and 'court case root', it is used in African American folk medicine and hoodoo folk magic. Ayurveda considers A. galanga (Sanskrit:-rasna) as a Vata Shamana drug. Known as பேரரத்தை (perarathai) in Tamil, this form of ginger is used with licorice root, called in Tamil athi-mathuram (Glycyrrhiza glabra) as folk medicine for colds and sore throats.
The rhizome has been shown to have weak antimalarial activity in mice.
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