Aromatic Ginger / Galangal – Kaempferia galanga
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Kaempferia galanga, commonly known as kencur, aromatic ginger, sand ginger, cutcherry, or resurrection lily, is a monocotyledonous plant in the ginger family, and one of four plants called galangal. It is found primarily in open areas in Indonesia, southern China, Taiwan, Cambodia, and India, but is also widely cultivated throughout Southeast Asia.
Kaempferia galanga is used as an herb in cooking in Indonesia, where it is called kencur, and especially in Javanese and Balinese cuisines. Beras kencur, which combines dried K. galanga powder with rice flour, is a particularly popular jamu herbal drink. Its leaves are also used in the Malay rice dish, nasi ulam.
Unlike the similar Boesenbergia rotunda, K. galanga is not commonly used in Thai cuisine, but can be bought as a dried rhizome or in powder form at herbal medicine stalls. It is known in Thai as proh horm or waan horm, and in Khmer as prâh or prâh krâ-oup. It is also used in Chinese cooking and Chinese medicine, and is sold in Chinese groceries under the name sha jiang, while the plant itself is referred to as shan nai. Kaempferia galanga has a peppery camphorous taste.
K. galanga is differentiated from other galangals by the absence of stem and dark brown, rounded rhizomes, while the other varieties all have stems and pale rosebrown rhizomes. It is also sometimes called lesser galangal, which properly refers to Alpinia officinarum.
- Alpinia galangal
- Alpinia zerumbet
- Curcuma longa
- Etlingera elatior
- Etlingera maingayi
- Etlingera fulgens
- Kaempferia angustifolia
- Kaempferia rotunda
- Zingiber cassumunar
- Zingiber officinale
The rhizomes of the plant, which contain essential oils, have been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a decoction or powder. Its alcoholic maceration has also been applied as liniment for rheumatism. The extract causes central nervous system depression, a decrease in motor activity, and a decrease in respiratory rate.
The decoctions and the sap of the leaves may have hallucinogenic properties, which may be due to unidentified chemical components of the plant’s essential oil fraction.
A purified extract of K. galanga and polyester-8 stabilize the UV-absorptive properties of sunscreen combinations containing avobenzone.
The rhizomes of K. galanga contain chemicals that are potent insecticides and may have potential in mosquito control. A similar finding was also revealed previously for Zingiber cassumunar and K. rotunda.