herb of the week
GALANGAL is also known as Thai ginger. It is a perennial plant in the Zingiberaceae ( ginger) family. It grows as a large clump of narrow leaves up to 2m tall. It bears small white flowers on branched heads, followed by red fruits. The rhizomes are large and fleshy and reddish in colour and are primarily the part used, though young shoots and flowers may also be eaten. Galangal needs a warm, shaded position in a frost-free location. Soil should be enriched with organic matter and kept moist. Plant a piece of rhizome with two or more buds. Rhizomes should be planted just below the surface of the soil. Once well established, pieces of the rhizome can be harvested from the edge of the root mass when the leaves die down. Galangal is valued both as a food plant and medicinally and also in the making of perfume. Slices or pastes of the rhizome are used to flavour curry dishes and soups and it is particularly popular in Thai cuisine. The root is also infused to make a tea which is valued for its efficacy in treating indigestion, nausea and flatulence.