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Kaempferia galanga

Galangal, Malay lengkuas, Mandarin (Traditional: 南薑/Simplified: 南姜, also termed as: T:高良薑/S:高良姜), Cantonese lam keong (藍薑, also known as blue ginger), is a rhizome with culinary and medicinal uses, best known in the west today for its appearance in Southeast Asia cuisine but also common in recipes from medieval Europe. Though it resembles ginger in appearance, it tastes little like ginger. In its raw form, galangal has a soapy, earthy aroma and a pine-like flavor with a faint hint of citrus. It is available as a powder from vendors of Oriental spices and is also available whole, cut or powdered from vendors of herbs. A mixture of galangal and lime juice is used as a tonic in parts of Southeast Asia. It is said to have the effect of an aphrodisiac, and act as a stimulant. Galangal is also known as laos (its Indonesian name), galanggal, and, somewhat confusingly, galingale, which is the name for several unrelated plants of the Cyperus genus of sedges, also with aromatic rhizomes.

The word galangal, or its variant galanga is used as a common name for all members of the genus Alpinia, but in common usage can refer to four plants, all in the Zingiberaceae (ginger family):

A. galanga is also known as Chewing John, Little John Chew and galanga root. Under these names, it is used in folk medicine and in voodoo charms (see John the Conqueror for related lore).

Lesser Galangal (Alpinia officinarum)

Galangal oil is also used regularly in various forms of oils for anointing. It is a component of Abramelin oil, a preparation described in the Kabbalistic grimoire The Book of Abramelin and adapted by Aleister Crowley and other modern occultists and mystics.

See also

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