south asian cuisine

Herb of the Week-Ginger


Common names

African Ginger
Ardraka
Black Ginger
Chiang
Gan-jiang
Ginger
Nagara
Race Ginger
Shen-jiang
Sunthi
Zingiber officinale, the official name of the common ginger was coined by the famous eighteenth-century Swedish botanist and general naturalist, Carl Linnaeus. While Latinizing the name, Carl Linnaeus also derived the name Zingiber for the generic term, using the Indian Sanskrit name for ginger - singabera, or shaped like a horn.

About 1,400 species of plants are placed in the family Zingiberaceae and the ginger is just another of these plants. It shares equal honors with other famous family members, the spices turmeric - which is a principal component used in curry; it is also an herbal medicine - and the spice cardamom - used extensively in South Asian cuisine. The ginger has a slender stem; ginger is a perennial plant, about 24 to 39 inches in height. Compared to the second and following stems, the first stems are lengthier and also bear beautiful and fragrant flowers. The ginger flowers are greenish yellow and streaked with purple down the sides. Dark green ginger leaves are characterized by a famous midrib that is sheathed at the growing base. The seeds of the ginger appear in the rare fruiting body.

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