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Spices Thai Food Galangal Nutmeg Tree And Krachai

Galangal Scientific name:Alpinia galangal (L.) Willd. Family:ZINGIBERACEAE Vernacular name:Kha

Galangal is one of the members of the ginger family. It is the rhizome of a plant Alpinia galangal(L.)Willd. The plant is about 1-2 metres high and has long arrow leaves and small white, red-streaked flowers. The rhizomes arc knobbly and ginger-like which are deep orange-brown in colour, aromatic, pungent and bitter. Dried rhzome pieces are tougher and woodier than dried ginger. It is used in soups and stews, but remove before serving as they are unpleasant and woody to chew on. Its piquant taste is akin to cardamon and ginger. Galangals are used fresh in curries and stews. It is an essential component of Thai curry pastes and other Thai cooking. The rhizomes and its essential oil are used to treat catarrh and respiratory problems. It is also carminative and stomachic.

Both the fresh and dried rhizomes are used in Thai-style soups and curries.

Nutmeg Tree Scientific name:Myristica fragrans Houtt. Family:MYRISTICACEAE Vernacular name:Chan – thed

Myristica fragrans is unigue among spice plants as it produces two distinct spices: ntmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the kernel of the seed, mace is the lacy growth, known as the aril, which surrounds the seed. Nutmeg was being used in China as a medicine for digestive disorders. The Indians and Arabs valued it as a treatment for digestive, liver and skin complaints and both nutmeg and mace were held to be aphrodisiacs.the nutmeg tree is an evergreen that grows to 12 metres or more in heght. It has dark green oval leaves and small pale yellow flowers. Nutmeg and mace are similar in aroma and taste, but mace is more refined. The aroma is rich, fresh and warm. The taste is warm and highly aromatic-sweetish in nutmeg and more biter in mace. Europeans have used nutmeg and mace most extensively in both sweet and savoury dishes. Nutmeg is a standard seasoning in many Thai recipes. The flesh of the fruit is used to make a sweetmeat.

An evergreen tree growing to the height of 8 to17 metres. Its leaves are leathery, shiny, dark green and oblong-ovate in outline with acute apex and base. Its pistillate flowers are small, yellow and axillary. Its fruit is a yellow, nearly ovoid, fleshy 2-valved capsule. The seedis surrounded by a fleshy, orange-red to red aril. It is cultivated in the southern part of Thailand.

The dried ripe seeds (nutmeg) and dried arils (mace ) are used as spices. Medicinally it is used as a stimulant and a carminative. The seeds and arils contain myristica oil which is composed mainly of myristicin and saffrole.

Krachai Scientific name:Boesenbergia rotunda (Linn.)Mansf. Family:ZINGIBERACEAE Vernacular name:Krachai

Krachai has finger-like rhizomes, shoots with up to four leaves, and a spike of white or pink flowers with a pink –spotted white lip. They are widely cultivated in Thailand and Indonesia for the spicy flavour. Yellow-fleshed rhizome folavours Thai food including soups, fish dishes, and curries. They are also used to reduce flatulence and to treat diarrhea, dysentery, and worms. In Thailand the leaves are regard as an antidote to certain poisons.

A perennial herb with a small slightly branched dark brown rhizome. The fleshy roots are cylindrical to spindle in shape, yellowish brown in colour and are arranged at right angle to the rhizome. The leaves are fairly large, oval in outline with acute apex. The inflorescence is composed of 4-6 flowers, the lowers blooming gradually from the base towards the apex of the inflorescence. Individual flowers are reddish purple in colour.

The aromatic tuberous roots are used a condiments in Thai food. The rhizomes and roots are rputed to increase physical efficiency. They are used as an antidysentery and a carminative in traditional Thai medicine. The rhizomes contain 0.08 percent of volatile oil, composed of cineol, boesenbergin A, camphor, etc.
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Article Added on Monday, January 1, 2007
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