A native of Java and the Malay peninsula, this member of the ginger family has a pungency and tang quite unlike that of common ginger ( Zingiber officinale ). It is often referred to as greater galangal, to distinguish it from another variety grown in China, lesser galangal.
The young shoots of the rhizome are pale pink, and are more flavourful and tender than the older beige coloured rhizomes. Galangal is too spicy to be eaten raw, an is used in slices, chunks or pounded to a paste for various curries and side dishes. When pounding or blending galangal to a paste, first chop it into small pieces as it is often obstinately tough.
Perhaps this is why Thai cooks often just bruise a large chunk with the flat side of a cleaver and add it whole to the cooking pot.
Slices of dried galangal are exported from tropical Asia, as are pieces of the young rhizome packed in water inside glass jars. However, nothing quite matches the inimitable jungle fragrance of fresh galangal.
Botanical Family : Zingiberaceae
Thai name : Kha
Malaysian name : Lengkuas
Indonesian name : Laos
source : Hutton, Wendy; (1997); Tropical Herbs & Spices of Indonesia; Periplus Editions