Rooting for ginger

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FLAVOURful Ginger
FLAVOURful Ginger

Pep up life with ginger pickle

Ginger is native to India and China. It gets its name from the Sanskrit word stringa-vera, which means “with a body like a horn”. It was one of the earliest spices known in Western Europe, used since the 9th Century.

A common article of medieval and Renaissance trade, it was one of the spices used against the plague. In English pubs and taverns in the 19th Century, barkeepers put out small containers of ground ginger, for people to sprinkle into their beer — the origin of ginger ale. Although often called “ginger root”, it is actually a rhizome. It is available in various forms, the most common of which are as follows:

Whole raw roots are generally referred to as fresh ginger. A piece of the rhizome is called a ‘hand’. Whole fresh roots provide the freshest taste. Dried roots are sold either ‘black’ with the root skin left on, or ‘white’ with the skin peeled off.

Powdered ginger is a buff-coloured ground spice made from dried root. Preserved or ‘stem’ ginger is made from fresh young roots, peeled and sliced, then cooked in a heavy sugar syrup. The ginger pieces and syrup are canned together. They are soft and pulpy, but extremely hot and spicy. Crystallised ginger is also cooked in sugar syrup, then air dried and rolled in sugar. Pickled ginger is the root sliced paper-thin and pickled in a vinegar solution.

Medicinal properties

Ginger is known as an aphrodisiac, a diaphoretic (it causes one to sweat) and as an effective digestive aid. By increasing the production of digestive fluids and saliva, ginger helps relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhoea and stomach cramping.

The root is used to treat nausea related to both motion and morning sickness. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties help relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, rheumatism and muscle spasms. Its therapeutic properties effectively stimulate circulation of the blood, removing toxins from the body, cleansing the bowels and kidneys, and nourishing the skin. Other uses for ginger root include the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems by loosening and expelling phlegm from the lungs.

The rhizome is widely used around the world as a spice or food additive and as a taste maker to add flavour to food.

Now, for a recipe.

Ginger Pickle Ingredients

Ginger as required (preferably a big chunk)

Garlic: 10 flakes

Salt as required

Turmeric: 1 tb

Jaggery powdered: 10 tbsp

Chilli powder/Red chillies: 7 or 8

Tamarind: lemon-sized



Channa dal: 2 tbsp

Urad dal: 2 tbsp

Mustard seeds: 1tbsp

Method: Peel and grate the ginger and then the jaggery. Add water to the tamarind and boil it till it becomes soft. Put 2 tbsp of oil in a kadai and fry the grated ginger for a few minutes till it turns light brown.

Then grind together garlic, ginger, turmeric, jaggery, chilli powder, salt and tamarind pulp into a fine thick paste. Don’t add water, grind it with tamarind pulp. In a kadai, heat 10 tbsp of oil and to it add mustard seeds, channadal and urad dal. When the mustard seeds splutter add the ground paste and fry for a few seconds.


Sous Chef.

Taj Connemara, Chennai




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