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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Galanga \Ga*lan"ga\, Galangal \Ga*lan"gal\, n.[OE. galingale, OF. galingal, garingal, F. galanga (cf. Sp. galanga), prob. fr. Ar. khalanj[=a]n. ] The pungent aromatic rhizome or tuber of certain East Indian or Chinese species of Alpinia ( Alpinia Galanga and Alpinia officinarum) and of the K[ae]mpferia Galanga), -- all of the Ginger family.


n. Any of several east Asian plants of the ginger family, used as a spice, but principally (taxlink Alpinia galanga species noshow=1).

  1. n. southeastern Asian perennial with aromatic roots [syn: Alpinia galanga]

  2. European sedge having rough-edged leaves and spikelets of reddish flowers and aromatic roots [syn: galingale, Cyperus longus]


Galangal is a rhizome of plants in the ginger family Zingiberaceae, with culinary and medicinal uses originating in Indonesia. The rhizomes are used in various Asian cuisines (for example in Thai and Lao tom yum and tom kha gai soups, Vietnamese Huế cuisine (tré) and throughout Indonesian cuisine, for example, in soto). Galangal is related to and resembles ginger. While ginger tastes a little like galangal, most cooks who use both rhizomes would never substitute one for the other and expect the same flavor.

In their raw form, galangals do not taste the same as common ginger. They are available as a whole rhizome, cut or powdered. The whole fresh rhizome is very hard, and slicing it requires a sharp knife. A mixture of galangal and lime juice is used as a tonic in parts of Southeast Asia. In the Indonesian language, the greater galangal and lesser galangal are both called lengkuas or , while Kaempferia galanga is known as kencur. It is also known as galanggal, and somewhat confusingly galingale, which is also the name for several plants of the unrelated Cyperus genus of sedges (also with aromatic rhizomes). In Thai language, greater galangal is called "ข่า" (kha) or "ข่าใหญ่" (kha yai), while lesser galangal is called "ข่าตาแดง" (kha ta daeng). In Vietnamese, greater galangal is called riềng nếp and lesser galangal is called riềng thuốc.

The word galangal, or its variant galanga, can refer in common usage to four plant species all in the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family:

  • Alpinia galanga or greater galangal
  • Alpinia officinarum or lesser galangal
  • Kaempferia galanga, also called kencur, aromatic ginger'' or sand ginger
  • Boesenbergia rotunda, also called Chinese ginger or fingerroot

Polish Żołądkowa Gorzka vodka is flavoured with galanga.

Usage examples of "galangal".

These include the rhizomes turmeric and galangal, and the seed pods of several species of the ginger family, known as cardamoms.

As of this writing, fresh galangal has very recently become available, at least in California.

Their popularity rose and fell with galangal in Medieval Europe, where they were believed to prevent drunkenness and, if unsuccessful, to cure hangovers.

The pastes may incorporate galangal as well as fresh ginger, or even fresh turmeric.

If you can get fresh galangal, add 3 thick slices to the sauce when you begin to cook it, and omit the laos powder.

All of the other Zingiberaceae, including dried ginger, turmeric, galangal, and cardamom, are important only as medicine.

The ginger plants that yield the familiar green cardamom pods, and the not-so-familiar black cardamom, and several varieties of galangal, grow wild in South India.

A popular formula called for ginger, galangal, pepper, nutmeg, honey, and parsnips.

Their fluctuating and often lengthy lists of ingredients combined distilled spirits and wine with ginger, galangal, and sometimes cardamom among other spices and herbs.

The scent of galangal and cilantro implied sinister Cambodian thinkingpins plotting the replacement of western civilization by a rack of cognitive servers.

All of the other Zingiberaceae, including dried ginger, turmeric, galangal, and cardamom, are important only as medicine.

The name of Alpinia officinarum was given to the herb, as the source of Lesser Galangal.