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Inside the Indian Household - Ginger

Posted May 14 2009 4:33pm

Fresh Ginger Root
Image courtesy Royalty Free Images from Getty Images

Ginger has a rich history of culinary and medicinal use, throughout Asia as well as the Roman Empire and then to the European countries colonised by Rome.

This spice is the mainstay of traditional Indian home remedies to treat day to day ills like nausea, common cold, cough, colic, loss of appetite, and rheumatism. It was also applied as a paste to the temples to relieve headache. Practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine traditionally use ginger to expel cold and restore depleted yang.

The botanical name, Zingiber officinale, is said to be derived from its Sanskrit name-‘Singabera’ which means ‘shaped like a horn’.

Buying and storing

In India, fresh ginger is available in most vegetable markets. Select the dry root as against the moist soft root. The former will stay fresh longer.
If the skin is not too tough, the ginger can be washed thoroughly and chopped finely with the skin intact to suit your requirement. The skin can be peeled with a paring knife in case it is very tough.
Whole ginger root can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few weeks. However the more tender moist variety doesn't last as long as the slightly tougher drier kinds.

You can grow ginger in your backyard!

Buy fleshy gingers with many buds. Soak them in warm water overnight, and then set them just under the soil surface with the buds facing up. Water lightly at first, then more heavily when growth starts. Expect plants to reach maturity, and a height of 2 to 4 feet, in 10 months to a year. Dig up new, young sprouts that appear in front of the main plants (they form their own tubers), use what you need, and freeze or replant the rest.

Good for you
~Morning sickness experienced in the 1st trimester of pregnancy can be safely relieved by eating fresh ginger root. This natural remedy has no significant side effects or harmful effects on pregnancy.
~Ginger contains a very potent anti-inflammatory substances that have a positive effect on rheumatic and arthritic pains. It has been clinically proven that in patients with painful, swollen knees- ginger reduced both the pain and swelling.
~Gingerol is also seen to selectively destroy the ovarian cancer cells due to its anti-inflammatory effect. Ovarian cancer is often detected very late due to absence of symptoms till the later stages. Regular consumption of ginger could well be the mode of prevention for this hidden cancer.
~Reaching out for a cup of spicy ginger-tea during the rains and cold wintry evenings is nature’s own way of strengthening our immunity.

Ginger is highly concentrated with active substances, so you need very little quantities to benefit from it. Ginger tea made by steeping two 1/2-inch slices of pounded fresh ginger in a cup of hot water, relieves nausea. In arthritic conditions, some people have found relief consuming as little as a 1/4-inch slice of fresh ginger in food, although studies show that patients who consumed more ginger reported quicker and better relief.

Ginger in Ayurveda

~Ayurveda recommends eating a couple of thin slices of ginger before a meal to ensure proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
~Traditional Ayurvedic texts recommend ginger for joint pains, morning sickness, motion or airsickness
~It is also believed to facilitate better absorption of nutrients and better elimination of wastes.

Cooking with ginger

Indian Ginger tea

This tea is spicy and warming. A cup of this tea can also be had after lunch to facilitate digestion. It is also soothing in colds. This recipe makes 2 cups of tea.

1 ½ cups water
¾ cup milk (whole or skimmed)
½ inch fresh ginger root
2 tsp tea leaves (CTC or any strong tea)
Sugar to taste

Wash the ginger thoroughly and pound it in a mortar-pestle. It can also be grated coarsely.
Place the water and milk in a pan to boil. Add the ginger and tea leaves with the required sugar and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let the tea simmer for 3-4 minutes so that the essence of ginger gets into the tea.
Strain into tea cups and drink immediately.

You could also add crushed pepper corns, pounded whole cinnamon, crushed cardamom pods and grated nutmeg to the boiling water to make the traditional Indian 'Masala chai'.

More ideas
1.Add freshly grated ginger with toasted sesame seeds in salad dressings.
2.A Tbsp of finely chopped ginger, sautéed with green chillies and green peas can be mixed with leftover rice to make ginger fried rice.
3.Make herbal tea using ginger slices and tulsi (Holy Basil) or mint leaves steeped in hot water.

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This Post was written by Nandita from Saffron Trail.

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