Common name: Ginger
The most common spice in Indian cooking, Ginger gives dishes a warm heat without the spiciness of chillies. This perennial plant can produce smaller plants each year and spread over a small area, giving you a year-long supply of this lovely spice. The plant grows to a height of 1 meter with pseudostems, which are the bases of leaves rolled up tightly.
Ginger is used in making juices, pickles, jams, preserves, cookies and even candies. It is also used to make wine, ginger tea, ginger ale and beer. This versatile spice is a staple in any Indian kitchen, raw, ground or powdered. No dish is complete without the ginger garlic paste, an essential ingredient that adds a lot of flavor to the dish.
Ginger juice taken with honey is good for stomach ailments and also for coughs. Powdered dry ginger is used in sweet dishes, and also as a medicine for bronchial ailments. Ginger is also used in a variety of Ayurvedic and herbal medicines.
Ginger belongs to the same family as Turmeric or Curcuma longa, Cardamom and Galangal, all of them used extensively in Asian countries in cooking, and also as herbal medicines. India is the largest producer of ginger and the 7th largest exporter.
Propagation is through rhizomes that contain a living bud. An unharvested ginger plant will produce more saplings on the ground and reproduce by itself.
Photo Courtesy: Sentot Setyasiswanto, Paulsy Willy