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Greater Galangale (Alpinia galanga [L.] Willd.)


botanicalLanguas galanga
pharmaceuticalRhizoma Galangae
Adkham, Galangal, Khulanjan
BurmesePa de gaw gyi, Padagoji
大高良薑 [daaih gòu lèuhng gēung], 高良薑 [gòu lèuhng gēung], 良薑 [lèuhng gēung], 紅豆蔻 [hùhng dáu kau], 山薑 [sāan gēung]
Daaih gou leuhng geung, Gou leuhng geung, Leuhng geung, Huhng dau kau, Saan geung
大高良薑 [dà gāo liáng jiāng], 高良薑 [gāo liáng jiāng], 紅豆蔻 [hóng dòu kòu], 良薑 [liáng jiāng], 山薑 [shān jiāng]
Da gao liang jiang, Gao liang jiang, Hong dou kou, Liang jiang, Shan jiang
CzechGalgán, Galgan obecný, Kalkán, Galgán veliký, Galgán větší, Galangal
Danish(Stor) galanga
DutchGrote galanga, Galgant, Galigaan, Lengoewas
EnglishSiamese ginger, Galangale
EstonianSuur kalganirohi, Kalgan
Farsiجوز ریشه
Djus rishe, Jouz rishe
FrenchSouchet long, Souchet odorant, Galanga
GermanGalanga, Galgant, Großer Galgant, Siam-Ingwer
Hindiकुलंजन, कुलिंजन
Kulanjan, Kulinjan, Punnagchampa
HungarianGalangagyökér, Galanga
ItalianGalanga, Galanga maggiore
Japaneseガランガ, ナンキョウ, ラオス
Garanga, Nankyō, Nankyo, Raosu
KhmerRomdeng, Pras sva, Madeng
Laoໜໍ່ຂ່າ, ຂ່າບ້ານ, ຂ່າແດງ, ຂ່າເຫຼືອງ, ຂ່າໃຫຍ່, ຂ່າ, ຂ່າຂົມ, ຂ່າປ່າ
Khaa, Khaa ban, Khaa daeng, Khaa khom, Khaa lueang, Khaa nyai, Khaa pa, Nokha
MalayLengkuas, Langkwas, Puar
Naga (Ao)Tutuo
Oriyaକାଲଙ୍କା, ଅଗୁରୁ ବଚ
Kalanka, Aguru bacha
PortugueseGengibre do Laos, Gengibre tailandés, Galanga, Junça ordinária
RussianГалгант, Галангал, Калган
Galgant, Galanga, Kalgan
SlovakGalgán lekársky, Galgán, Alpínia liečivá, Alpínia galangová
Teluguకచ్చూరము, సన్నదుంపరాష్ట్రము
Kacchuramu, Sannadumparashtramu
Thaiดอกข่า, ข่า, ข่าลิง
Dok kha, Ginza, Khaa; Khaa-ling (Alpinia officinarum)
TurkishHavlıcan, Galanga
VietnameseRiềng, Riềng nếp, Sơn nại, Cao lương khương, Cao khương hương, Một loại gừng
Rieng, Rieng nep, Son nai, Cao luong khuong; Cao khuong huong, Mot loai gung (Alpinia officinarum)
Alpinia galanga: Galanga (fresh)
Fresh galanga rhizome
Alpinia galanga: Galanga (dried)
Dried galanga rhizome
Used plant part

The ginger-like rootstock (rhizome). It is built up from cylindrical subunits (circular cross-section), whose pale–reddish surface is character­istically cross-striped by reddish–brown, small rings. The interior has about the same colour as the skin and is hard and woody in texture.

Although galanga leaves are aromatic, they are not often used for flavouring purposes. The same holds for the seeds, which could be used in place of cardamom.

Plant family

Zingiberaceae (ginger family).

Sensory quality

Warm, sweet, spicy. Fresh galanga has a distinct fragrance that comes close to fir or pine needles; dried galanga is more spicy and sweet–aromatic, almost like cinnamon.

Alpinia galanga: Fresh galanga root
Fresh galanga rhizome       © Thai Junior Encyclopedia

Main constituents

The rhizome contains up to 1.5% essential oil (1,8 cineol, α-pinene, eugenol, camphor, methyl cinnamate and sesqui­terpenes).

In dried galanga, the essential oil has quantitatively different composition than in fresh one. Whereas α-pinene, 1,8-cineol, α-bergamotene, trans-β-farnesene and β-bisabolene seem to contribute to the taste of fresh galanga equally, the dried rhizome shows lesser variety in aroma components (cineol and farnesene, mostly). (Phytochemistry, 24, 93, 1985)

The resin causing the pungent taste (formerly called galangol or alpinol) consists of several diarylheptanoids and phenylalkanones (the latter are also found in ginger and grains of paradise). Furthermore, the rhizome is high in starch.

Alpinia galanga: Galangale inflorescence
(Probably) Galanga flowers
Alpinia galanga: Single flower
Close-up to flower of galanga


South East Asia, probably southern China; it is now cultivated in Indo­china, Thai­land, Malaysia and Indo­nesia.


Galanga and similar forms derive from the Persian/Arabic name qulanjan [قولنجان] or khalanjan [خلنجان], which itself is probably an adaption of Chinese gao liang jiang [高良姜] high, good ginger. The names in Northern Indian languages have the same source: Sanskrit kulanja [कुलंज] and its successors in modern Indic languages, Hindi kulanjan [कुलंजन], and Urdu kholinjan [کھلنجان].

The genus name Alpinia is in memory of an Italian botanist (Prospero Alpina, 1533–1617). The alternative (younger) genus name Languas is based on Malay lengkuas galanga, which as its Indonesian counterpart laos, originates probably from a shorter form of the Chinese name, liang-jiang [良姜] high ginger. The derivation appears more plausible if a Southern Chinese pronunciation of 姜 (Yue geung, Minnan kiang) is taken into account.

Selected Links

Indian Spices: Galanga ( The Epicentre: Galangal Medical Spice Exhibit: Galangal (via (via Sorting Alpinia names ( Recipe: Rendang ( Recipe: Rendang Daging ( Recipe: Tom Kha Kai [ต้มข่าไก่] ( via Recipe: Tom Yum [ต้มยำ] ( via Recipe: Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) ( Recipe: Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) ( Erläuterungen zu Nasi Goreng

Alpinia galanga: Flower cluster
Flower cluster of galanga

Alpinia galanga: Galanga flower
Galanga flower       © Thai Junior Encyclopedia

Greater galangale, mostly referred to simply as galangale or galanga, is a very popular spice in whole South East Asia and especially typical for the cuisine of Thailand. It is also known and used in Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Southern China. Chinese five spice powder is sometimes enhanced with galangale (see star anise). In Western countries, however, galanga is not well known, at least in our days; it has, however, been a valued spice in the early Middle-ages.

Galangale may be used fresh or dried, which makes a great difference in flavour. Fresh galanga has a pure and refreshing odour and a mildly spicy flavour; it is the galanga of choice for all Thai foods, where thin slices of galanga are often added to soups, e. g., to the well-known tom khaa [ต้มข่า] which basically is a variant of tom yam [ต้มยำ] (kaffir lime) with galanga and coconut milk. Moreover, galanga is often used, finely cut or chopped, for stir-fries; and last but not least, ground fresh galanga rhizome is an essential ingredient in most curry pastes (see coconut for a discussion on these typical Thai flavouring). Like ginger, its aroma merges well with garlic.

Dried and powdered galanga is less fresh but more spicy, something in between of ginger and cinnamon. Dried galanga is also sold if form of slices that must be reconstituted in warm water and come closer to fresh galanga in their flavour.

In most South East Asian countries dried galanga is employed only whenever fresh galanga is not available. Indonesians, for example, frequently use slices or powder of the fresh or dried rhizome, e. g., for nasi goreng (fried rice with vegetables and meat) or for the characteristically sweet Jawanese curries (see tamarind).

Alpinia galanga: Galanga (plant)
Galanga (plant)

Another well-known Indonesian dishes which makes use of dried galanga is rendang, a spicy beef (or buffalo) stew. Cubed beef is cooked in thick coconut milk together with dried chiles, garlic and dried turmeric, ginger, Indonesian bay-leaves and galangale; some recipes additionally prescribe Indonesian cinnamon, black pepper or even fennel. Rendang is famous both for the soft texture of the otherwise tough buffalo meat and for its hot and aromatic flavour; even for ordinary beef, I found a cooking time of three hours appropriate, unless the procedure is sped up by using a pressure cooker.

Rendang is a great example of the food style called nasi Padang Padang-food in Indonesia. It originates from Western Sumatra province (Sumatra barat) and is named after the capital Padang. The region is inhabited by the Islâmic minangkabau people who are known all over Indonesia for their strong breeds of buffalo. By Indonesian standards, Padang food is quite spicy; due to much domestic migration, nasi Padang has become available and popular all over the country, and can thus also be enjoyed in Jawa or Bali.

Galangale is sometimes confused with other spices of the ginger family; see lesser galangale for details. Its taste and appearance are, however, characteristic; it cannot be substituted by any other spice.

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