Among the species of the genus Alpinia (Alpinia in Latin) of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae Latin name), there is a very useful plant with pretty white flowers in pink stripes named galangal.
The galangal in its natural form has the following external data: this is a perennial herb. The height reaches up to 150 centimeters. The stems of the galangal are flower-bearing and deciduous. One plant counts from 25-40 stems. The leaves are long and lancet-shaped, are located sequentially. The dark green leaves reach from 18-30 cm in length and two centimeters in width.
Galangal blossoms from March to June. Its flowers are rather short tubes with oblong blades. Their petals are white in pink strips. They are collected in spike-shaped inflorescences at the very top of the plant. Spikelets can be up to 10 cm. Fruits resemble red boxes with small seeds inside.
The roots are called "rhizome". They are thick, creeping with a huge number of branches. The thickness is 1-2 centimeters. It has dark cross-cut rings, and the color is from pale yellow to reddish. The root is mainly used for cooking.
Alpinia officinalis is from China, more precisely from the Chinese island of Hainan. It has spread almost all over the world. Countries where today you can find galangal:
- the island of Java (in Indonesia);
- Mediterranean countries;
- the countries of Central Asia, Transcaucasia, the Armenian and Iranian highlands;
- the Caucasus region;
- the countries of southern Africa;
- the countries of North and South America.
Alpinia officinalis is a very fragrant plant. The statement that it can be replaced by ginger is incorrect. Ginger smells like a burning citrus, and the Alpinia is more tender and disposable.
The taste of flowers, buds and stems is very spicy. The roots are bitter and sharp. The dried galangal’s taste is sweeter, spicier, reminiscent of cinnamon.