Galangal a Complete Guide

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A rhizome from the ginger family of which there are two types, greater and lesser. Taking its name from the Chinese for ‘mild ginger’ it is used extensively in Thai and Malaysian cooking.


Greater galangal is the most widely used with a less pronounced flavour but is generally considered inferior to lesser galangal, which is harder to find. Greater galangal has pale brown skin that gives way to creamy white flesh whilst the flesh of the lesser galangal is a dusty brick red.

Galangal has a strong peppery taste and can be bought fresh, (as pictured) in dried sliced root form or powdered. I prefer to use the fresh root, peeling and slicing it as required and storing in the refrigerator. For me, the best example of galangal in cookery is in ‘dtom khaa ghai’ the classic chicken and galangal soup of Thailand. Probably Thailand’s best-loved soup, rich with coconut milk and pungent with slices of galangal, chilli and lemongrass. Ginger can be substituted at a push but the dish will lack the authenticity which galangal gives it.

Content and picture © Miles Collins