AskDefine | Define galangal

Dictionary Definition



1 southeastern Asian perennial with aromatic roots [syn: Alpinia galanga]
2 European sedge having rough-edged leaves and spikelets of reddish flowers and aromatic roots [syn: galingale, Cyperus longus]

User Contributed Dictionary



Alteration of galingale.


  • /'gæləŋgəl/


  1. any of several east Asian plants of the ginger family, used as a spice
    • 1890: The duties on olives, bay leaves, galangal, coffee, cocoa, spices, tea, and sugar, as well as on coal, coke, and peat imported through the western frontier and the Baltic ports, will not be raised. — The Times, 1 Sep 1890, p.3 col. C


Alternative forms

Extensive Definition

Galangal, Thai Ka (ข่า), 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), or in Vietnamese, Riềng. It is a rhizome with culinary and medicinal uses, best known in the west for its appearance in Thai cuisine and other Southeast Asian cuisine. Though it resembles (and is related to) 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 Asian 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 also the name for several plants of the unrelated 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, and in common usage can refer to four plants, all in the Zingiberaceae (ginger family):
Alpinia galanga is also known as Chewing John, Little John Chew and galanga root. It is used in folk medicine and in voodoo charms (see John the Conqueror for related lore).
Galangal oil is also used in various oils for anointing.
galangal in German: Galgant
galangal in Spanish: Galangal
galangal in French: Galanga
galangal in Polish: Galangal
galangal in Portuguese: Galangal
galangal in Russian: Калган
galangal in Turkish: Havlıcan
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