Langkawas or galangal is not well known or popular in the Philippines. But I have old recipe books and I noticed that everyone of them has this ginger-like rhizome they call langkawas in some of the recipes. Langkawas is the name derived from the Indonesian word “lengkuas”, the term used for galangal or blue ginger, well-known as Thai ginger.
Galangal has many forms but I will only deal with this type, as seen in the picture. I just have dug these roots from my garden when I took the pictures. I am glad I was able to grow these wonderful plant in my garden. I bought the root in Chinatown and planted it. I left them in the ground for about six months, I did not see it flower. Then when the leaves are turning brown, I want to see if the plant is alright, so I dug it up and to my surprise, I have a big clump of roots! I was happy to see my patience paid off. I will have galangal for years.
Langkawas or galangal grows up to five feet in semi-shade environment. The leaves are arrow-shaped just like arrow-root leaves but more light-green in color. The ginger itself has a pinkish tinge to it. The shell is harder than the regular ginger but the taste is more sweet and pungent at the same time.
Most Southeast Asian countries used the galangal as spice for their cooking like curries. I like to use it for teas or tisanes. In India, it is used for cooking as well as medicine (Ayurvedic medicine) In Russia, galangal is used in their drink called Nastoika which has a tangy flavor.
Galangal is a nice addition to your home garden. It is ornamental and adds a tropical feel to the garden and at the same time you know that
in the next few months you will have a harvest of these wonderful roots called blue ginger or galangal.