Languas Galangga in Spice Garden
Galangga may be used fresh or dried, which makes a great difference in flavour. Fresh galanga has a pure and refreshing out dour and a mildly spicy flavour; it is the galanga of choice for all Indonesian foods, where thin slices of galanga are often added to soups, e. g., to the well-known tom which basically is a variant of tom yam with galanga .
Moreover, galanga is often used, finely cut or chopped, for stir-fries; and last but not least, ground fresh galanga rhizome is an essential ingredient in most curry pastes for a discussion on these typical Indonesian (flavouring) Dried and powdered galanga is less fresh but more spicy. Dried galanga is also sold if form of slices that must be reconstituted in warm water and come closer to fresh galanga in their flavour.
In most South East Asian countries dried galanga is employed only whenever fresh galanga is not available. Indonesians, for example, frequently use slices or powder of the fresh or dried rhizome, e. g., for nasi goreng (fried rice with vegetables and meat) or for the characteristically sweet Jawanese curries
Galangga is the dried rhizome or root of the plant, which grows mainly in the Eastern Himalayas and South West India. The plant is 1.8 to 2.1 meters high, and bears perennial rhizomes, which are deep, orange-brown in color, aromatic, pungent and bitter. The fruits are about 13 mm long, constricted in the middle and contain 3 to 6 seeds.
The latter are slightly pungent, with an aroma similar to that of rhizome. Cut pieces of the rhizome of this species are known as `greater galangal`. The rhizome of `lesser galanga` is smaller and reddish-brown in color, and has a stronger odor and taste.
Galangga is one of the spices which reached the European markets relatively early, for it is mentioned along with pepper in the literature of the Middle Ages where it received praise in various writings dealing with drugs, medicines etc.
Little published information on its composition or nutritive value is available. However, some useful information is available on its volatile oil.
Galangaga oil, which is also known as `false ginger oil`, is a steam-distilled oil from the dried comminuted rhizomes of galangal.
Galangga oil is a pale yellow to olive-brown liquid with an eucalyptus-cardamom-ginger-like odor and warming camphoraceous-like bitter taste.
It consists of methyl-cinnamate (48 %), cineol (20 to 30 %), some camphor and probably d-pinene. Leaves also yield a volatile oil.
There is variation in composition of rhizome oil reported by different scientists, which is naturally due to the variance in the volatile oil itself, the composition of which in turn is affected by a number of factors such as: area of cultivation, age of the plant, season and climatic condition, type of soil, time of harvest, method of distillation etc.
Apart from being used as a spice, it has more elaborate use in various medicinal preparations. In indigenous medicine, the rhizomes are used in rheumatism and catarrhal affections, especially in bronchial catarrh. The drug is a depressant of the cardio-vascular system. It has important action on the bronchioles. The rhizome and its essential oil are useful in respiratory troubles, especially of children. The rhizomes are also carminative and stomachic.