Ginger Vs Galangal: Ultimate Guide To Origin, Taste, And More
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As per the National Library of Medicine, ginger is a plant that grows from underground stems called rhizomes, has a strong and spicy flavour and smell. Galangal comes from the galangal plant. It has a more intense, earthy and pine-like flavour with hints of citrus. Unlike ginger, galangal is very tough and needs to be sliced thinly or grated before using. 

Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, pickled, or candied. Ginger adds its unique flavour to various dishes, drinks, and medicines across the world. Galangal is most used in Southeast Asian curries, soups and stir fries. Both can provide a spicy touch and aroma to dishes, but galangal's flavour is more complex. 

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Originally from Asia, ginger is now cultivated globally. According to the National Library of Medicine, ginger contains antioxidants and has been used in traditional medicine to aid digestion and relieve nausea, arthritis, and other ailments. Galangal is native to Southeast Asia and grows wild in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. It is used extensively in Thai and Indonesian cooking, as well as traditional medicines in the region. 


Ginger is a flowering plant that originated in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. The rhizome (underground stem) of the ginger plant is commonly used as a spice and flavouring agent. Ginger thrives in hot, humid climates and requires ample moisture and filtered sunlight to grow. Ginger is cultivated in these tropical countries, where the climate consists of high temperatures, heavy rainfall, and humid conditions year-round. The ginger rhizome is dug up when the stalks and leaves begin to wither, after 8 to 10 months of growth. 

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Galangal thrives in the hot, steamy climate of tropical Asia, where temperatures are high, and rainfall is abundant throughout the year. The rhizomes require loose, moist soil and partial shade to flourish. There are four main types of galangals - Greater galangal, Lesser galangal, Sand galangal, and Khao galangal. The rhizomes are dug up when the plant is at least 1.5 to 2 years old. They are then cleaned, sliced, dried, and ground into powder.  


Ginger is spicy but also sweet, with a lemon scent and a mild flavour that gently fades away. Though they appear similar, galangal and ginger each have their own unique taste.  

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Galangal and ginger are both underground stems. Ginger and galangal look alike, but taste very different. But their flavours are very different. Galangal has a strong, peppery and earthy flavour. It tastes a bit like mustard, with a citrusy aroma and a bitter aftertaste.  


Ginger has a mellow, gentle sweetness. Its tan rhizomes are spread over with a light citrusy spice that imparts a delicate heat. The overall effect of ginger is pleasant.  

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Galangal has a sharp aroma like menthol and pine forests. When ground or sliced, it releases assertive notes of camphor and eucalyptus that instantly clear your sinuses. According to the National Library of Medicine, the intense smell arises from high concentrations of blue essential oils in the gnarled rhizomes.  

Culinary Uses 

Ginger adds flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes across the world. It is commonly used in Asian stir fries, curries, soups and marinades, where it balances out salty or fatty flavours. Ginger also pairs well with chicken, seafood and vegetables. It can be steeped into tea or infused into syrups for homemade ginger ale. When baked into cookies, cakes and pies, ginger complements other spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  

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Galangal, or Thai ginger, is a unique ingredient often found in Southeast Asian cuisines like Thai, Indonesian, and Malaysian. The galangal goes a long way in dishes. It's able to stand up to and complement bold, spicy seasonings. Slices or chunks of the root are simmered in curries, soups and stir fries to infuse them with galangal's intriguing heat. 

Health Benefits  

Ginger root is an ancient natural remedy that has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of health conditions. The root has long been valued for its ability to alleviate arthritis, colic, colds, headaches, and painful menstrual cramps. As per the National Library of Medicine, ginger has also traditionally been used to soothe more general stomach troubles like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and indigestion. Ginger is used especially for nausea and vomiting related to morning sickness, and motion sickness. Compounds in ginger are thought to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain-relieving effects. 

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Galangal root has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. According to the National library of Medicine, stomach aches, common cold symptoms like sore throats, and swelling can all be treated by galangal. It was also utilized to stimulate blood circulation. The chemicals within galangal possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiulcer, antidiarrheal, anticoagulant, and antidiabetic properties. This means galangal can reduce inflammation, neutralize free radicals, treat stomach ulcers, diarrhea, and blood clots, as well as help manage diabetes.