Greater Galangal (Alpinia galanga)

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Alpinia galangal is the scientific name for the Greater Galangal plant. The Greater Galangal plant is a perennial herb in the Ginger family of plants, native to Indonesia and South Asia. It is cultivated as a spice in Malaysia, Laos, and Thailand, where it is often locally known as 'langkawas'. Greater Galangal grows from rhizomes, that are usually in deep clamps, and also bears bright red fruit. Greater Galangal grows up to 6-8 feet tall and has long, wide, blade-like leaves.

Greater Galangal's rhizome is used in most Thai and other southeast Asian recipes, especially as a curry paste with seafood and meat dishes. The rhizome is either cut into pieces or mashed into a paste. The flavor of the rhizome has been described as tasting sharp, spicy, and with a sweet taste. The unique taste is compared to a mix between black pepper and pine. The rhizome is also utilized in Voodoo practices.

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The berries are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as Ayurvedic medicine. Recent scientific research and bio-assays are starting to reveal that Alpinia galanga has chemical constituents like galangin, galangol, pinene and eugenol which contribute to the plant's anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, cardio-protective, neuroprotective, analgesic, and hepatoprotective effects on human health.

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