Alpinia galanga, a plant in the ginger family, is an herb used in cooking, especially in Indonesian cuisine and Thai cuisine. It is one of four plants known as galangal, and is differentiated from the others with the common name greater galangal. The galangals are also called blue ginger or Thai ginger.
The plant grows from rhizomes in clumps of stiff stalks up to two meters in height with abundant long leaves which bears red fruit. It is native to South Asia and Indonesia. It is cultivated in Malaysia, Laos, and Thailand. A. galanga is the galangal used most often in cookery. The robust rhizome has a sharp, sweet taste and smells like a blend of black pepper and pine needles. The red fruit is used in traditional Chinese medicine and has a flavor similar to cardamom.
The rhizome is a common ingredient in Thai soups and curries, where is used fresh in chunks or thin slices, mashed and mixed into curry paste, or dried and powdered. Indonesian rendang is usually spiced with galangal. Greater galangal is used in Russia as a flavoring for beverages, including a liqueur called nastoika.
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).
- Van Wyk, Ben-Erik (2005). Food Plants of the World. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc. ISBN 0-88192-743-0
- Greater galangal
- see Scheffer, J.J.C. & Jansen, P.C.M., 1999. Alpinia galanga (L.) Willd.[Internet] Record from Proseabase. de Guzman, C.C. and Siemonsma, J.S. (Editors).
PROSEA (Plant Resources of South-East Asia) Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia.  where much more information can be found.