ginger – getting to the ‘root’ of it

In the Tikkaway Kitchens, we are ready to start a ‘name-the-ginger-shape museum’! We have photographic proof!! But, apart from being a source of entertainment in an otherwise humdrum day in the kitchen, Ginger has actually been dubbed among the world’s healthiest foods!

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Ginger and Turmeric come from the same family. Ginger doesn’t have the orange hue of turmeric, but is equally an essential element of an Indian larder.

In Indian cuisine, Ginger is used to enhance the flavor of most dishes. It is used as part of the cooking process or as a garnish… both to the same effect… a lovely warm, aromatic, slightly pungent and a distinctively fresh taste. This knobby rhizome packs quite a punch. It works wonders on the digestive system and used in the right manner, it can actually take a dish to a different plane.

Standard Indian curries always have fresh ginger as part of the base along with tomato, onion and garlic. All cruciferous veggies (especially Cabbage, Cauliflower & broccoli) pair very well with Ginger. Ginger also helps cut the gassy-ness in these veggies.

While understanding the subtle taste of ginger is often associated with a highly refined palate, Ginger is a very valuable contributor in ancient Indian Medicine (Ayurveda). All digestive ailments in some manner can be arrested by using Ginger. Some preliminary reports in cancer research indicate that ginger helps slow the growth of some tumors. While the research isn’t conclusive, the other benefits of using ginger can’t be sneezed at. Ginger is effective in treating nausea, colds & coughs, and stomach aches among others.

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Fresh ginger is used widely to flavor curries and vegetable stir-fry’s. It is used in the form of a paste, grated, julienned, chopped, minced or even sliced. In some parts of India, the fresh ginger gets replaced by dried powdered ginger. Ginger powder works a little differently in flavoring food, but packs a similar punch to fresh ginger. Ginger is often pickled in lime juice with salt and spices.

There are a few varieties of ginger. In real terms, they aren’t really varieties – more from the same family. ‘Galangal’ is the Thai version which is milder in taste while ‘mango ginger’ is closer to Turmeric with a mild yet distinctive taste of raw mangoes. Mango ginger is used to make pickles in India.

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Sources: whfoods.com, Wikipedia

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