Namaste, good day to you, my name is Balavan (which means powerful) in Hindi. Hindi is the national language spoken in India. Actually, Hindi and English are both national languages for India, bet you didn’t know that. I am very, very old and have been grown in tropical Asia since ancient times. The ancient use of ginger pre-dates historical records, wonder how they figured that out? My great ancestors began in India but we have done a lot of traveling since then. We were carried in pots on vessels travelling the maritime trade routes of the Indian Ocean and South China Sea in the 5th century AD and we stopped and stayed at many countries along the way. In the 16th century we even went to Africa and the Caribbean.
Now we live everywhere throughout the humid tropics. We were highly important as an article of trade and we were exported from India to the Roman empire 2000 years ago where ginger was valued more for its medicinal properties than as an ingredient in cookery. We even continued as an article of trade to Europe even after the fall of the Roman empire, with Arab merchants controlling the trade in ginger and other spices for centuries. Together with black pepper, ginger was one of the most commonly traded spices during the 13th and 14th centuries. Arabs carried our roots on their voyages to East Africa to plant at coastal settlements and on Zanzibar. During this time in England, ginger was very sought after, and one pound in weight of ginger was equivalent to the cost of a sheep, unbelievable really!
The historical reverence for and usage of ginger is simply staggering. I had great historic, medicinal value as a spiritual beverage, aphrodisiac, digestive aid, etc. Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Indian systems viewed me as a healing gift from God. Chinese pharmacopeias claim long term use of fresh ginger as putting a person in contact with the spiritual advantages. Writings of the Koran describe ginger as a beverage of the holiest heavenly spirits. My healing heritage is unmatched in the history of medicine. I am also an important root when it comes to Ayurvedic Medicine and Ayurveda gives ginger the status of a virtual medicine chest. That’s because I have time-tested digestion-friendly properties, in addition to my numerous other health benefits. In India, I am liberally used in daily life. Ginger-infused chai is a household favorite, and its grandma’s antidote of choice for battling cold and flu. On millions of dining tables in India, you’ll see matchsticks of fresh ginger that have turned a soft pink from being soaked in lemon juice and salt: a zingy accompaniment to any cooked meal. I am also mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings, and long been prized for my aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties.
I may be a little strange looking to some with my knobby arms and legs but don’t let that fool you. Looks aren’t everything, remember don’t judge a book by its cover! You are going to be very surprised to find out how healthy I am for you and then you may look at me in a different light. I am so good for you I’m not even sure where to start.
Firstly, if you haven’t been feeling hungry? Eat fresh ginger just before lunch to stoke a dull appetite and fire up the digestive juices. I improve the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body and help to clear the ‘microcirculatory channels’ of the body, including the pesky sinuses that tend to flare up from time to time. If you are feeling airsick or nauseous? Chew on ginger, preferably tossed in a little honey (I am quite strong). And there is more, if your tummy is moaning and groaning from cramps? Munch on Me. Reeling under joint pain? Ginger, with its anti-inflammatory properties—can bring relief you can even float some ginger essential oil in your bath to help aching muscles and joints. If you have just had surgery? Chewing ginger post-operation can help overcome nausea. Whoa, stir me up to make some ginger tea to get rid of throat and nose congestion. And when there’s a nip in the air, the warming benefits of drinking this tasty tea are even greater!
There are a number of ways that you can use me in your diet on a regular basis, such as in your curries, your pork roasts and your holiday loaves. You can eat ginger root dried, fresh, pickled, preserved, ground, crystallized, or candied. When preparing me, be sure to wash my body and peel off my outer skin with a paring knife, then grate, slice or chop my creamy white inner flesh and hydrate it by soaking it in liquid, such as water, vegetable broth or chicken broth, or you may want to add me to a soup or casserole. Pairing pickled ginger with sushi is also a common way to enjoy me. Alternatives to including ginger in your diet is to make natural ginger ale made from soda water, lemon and ginger powder. There are lots of ways you can use me in recipes, in meat dishes, fruit juices, buttermilk and even a smidgen of grated ginger on your vanilla panna cotta or strawberry sorbet can wake up the flavor! Even add me to your juice ‘Grate’ idea: grate some ginger root and put it in your juicer, along with carrots and apples and a little lemon juice. Totally yummy, and of course, so good for you!
I also wanted to share a couple of my very favorite ‘Ginger” recipes for your total enjoyment. They are so easy to prepare and absolutely delicious.
Ginger & Herb Rice
Cook basmati rice. When you take the lid off the pan, quickly stir in finely chopped garlic, ginger, green chilies and fresh cilantro leaves—the burst of flavor and fragrance will drive your senses crazy with desire!
Ginger Pineapple Fried Rice
- 5 cups leftover cooked basmati rice
- 3 Tbsp. canola, peanut oil, or another high smoke-point oil
- 3 Tbsp. finely minced fresh peeled ginger
- 5 green onions (both the white parts and the greens, separated), thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 3/4 cup diced (1/4-inch cubes) fresh pineapple
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Swirl in a tablespoon of oil to coat the pan. When the oil is shimmering hot, and starts to smoke, add the ginger and the white and pale greens parts of the green onions. Sprinkle with salt and stir fry until fragrant, about a minute. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add the cooked, leftover rice to the pan, breaking it up with your fingers as you sprinkle it into the pan. Stir-fry until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped pineapple, sliced green onion greens, and sesame oil. Add salt to taste and serve.
Ginger Honey Chicken Wings
Reserve half of the marinade to toss with the chicken wings once they are cooked. Do not let marinade that has touched raw chicken be used with the cooked chicken for food safety reasons.
- 3 pounds’ chicken wings
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. honey
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/8 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce (or other hot sauce)
Preheat oven, prepare roasting pan: Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack on the upper third of the oven. Line a roasting pan or thick baking sheet with foil. Rub some olive oil or canola oil over the foil to keep the wings from sticking. Prepare marinade sauce: Whisk together the marinade ingredients—soy sauce, honey, grated ginger, garlic, hot sauce—in a bowl. Set aside half of the marinade to be used as a sauce (about 1/4 cup). Toss wings with marinade, place on pan: Place the chicken wings in a bowl and toss with the remaining marinade. Arrange the wings, skin-side down, on the foil lined roasting pan, taking care not to crowd the pan. Roast in oven for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, use tongs to turn the wings over so that they are now skin-side up, and roast for another 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Check while roasting to make sure they aren’t getting too dark. If so, place on a lower rack or cover with foil to finish cooking. Toss with reserved marinade sauce: Place cooked wings in a bowl and toss with the reserved marinade sauce. Garnish: Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onions to serve.
अलविदा (Good-bye) in Hindi
Stay Healthy and Remember Me when you need a little pick-me up – I will always be there for you.
References: herbalegacy.com, medicalnewstoday.com, simplyrecipes.com and eatingwell.com