Ginger, the wonder spice

Brimming with taste and medicinal properties, ginger is an indispensible ingredient for any cook, says Fareeda Kanga.

The aroma of fresh ginger is something we are all familiar with in Indian kitchens. Used in almost every sabzi, dal and non-vegetarian recipe, what would we do without the staple ginger and its counterpart garlic, I wonder.

About Ginger
Ginger is actually an ancient herb and has been used since Vedic times for a plethora of medicinal purposes. It is known as maha-aushadhi, meaning great medicine.

Originated in India but transported to China over 3,000 years ago, it even reached ancient Greece and Rome via the Red Sea and by the 10th century, it was flourishing in England. Its botanical name has its roots in its Sanskrit name, Singabera.

It’s all in the appearance

Fresh ginger is bulbous, tan or pale beige and firm. Ginger has a warm, fresh aroma and is easy to slice with a sharp, hot taste.

Curative properties and other uses
Ancient physicians used ginger as a carminative and anti-fermenting medicine.
Galen, the Greek physician, used ginger as a treatment for paralysis and as an aphrodisiac. In India, it is best known as a cure for colds and sore throats. Dry ginger mixed with water works wonders to relieve stiff joints.

Ginger oil is also used to flavour beer, wine and cordials, whilst the oil is an ingredient in perfume.

“When buying ginger, choose rhizomes (the underground branching stem) that are firm and plump. They should snap off easily if the ginger is fresh. Avoid wrinkled, mildewed pieces with holes. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Dried ginger powder can be stored in an airtight container for about six months. The sun dried version is called sount in India,” says Sous Chef Lakhbir Singh of Ssafron Restaurant at Shangri la, Bengaluru.

RECIPES – Courtesy
Chef Lakhbir Singh, Shangri la Hotel, Bengaluru

Zaffrani chilgoja aur Bhutte ke kebab

A rare concoction of golden corn and pine nuts enriched with saffron, minced and griddled

Corn kernel 120 gm
Pine nuts 20 gm
Saffron 0.025 gm
Garlic, chopped 10 gm
Garam masala 2 gm
Fresh green chilli 5 gm
Boiled potato 10 gm
Breadcrumbs 5 gm
Ginger chopped 5 gm
Cumin seeds 2 gm
Coriander leaves 5 gm
Mint leaves 3 gm
Cardamom green 0.03 gm
Salt To taste
Ghee 10 gm
Bamboo skewers 6

Heat ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds, chopped garlic and sauté till the garlic turns golden brown in colour and add corn kernels and cook till all the excess water evaporates. Let the mixture cool.

Crush the corn in a mixer and transfer the mixture in a mixing bowl. Add the powdered spices, chopped pine nuts, saffron, ginger chopped, green chilli chopped, mashed boiled potatoes, breadcrumbs and salt, and mix them properly. Skewer the mixture or make patties.

Heat ghee in a pan and shallow fry the kebabs at medium heat till they turn crispy and golden brown. Serve with mint chutney.

Murgh Masala Pulao

Chicken with aromatic basmati and pounded masala

Chicken boneless slice 120 gm
Chicken stock 20 ml
Onion large 60 gm
Tomato 25 gm
Garlic paste 3 gm
Ginger paste 5 gm
Garam masala 1gm
Deggi mirchi 3 gm
Turmeric 2 gm
Cumin seeds 1 gm
Capsicum 25 gm
Basmati rice 100 gm
Coriander leaves 1 gm
Ghee 15 ml
Bay leaf 0.05 gm
Cardamom green 0.03 gm
Cardamom black 0.03 gm
Yogurt 20 ml
Salt to taste

Marinate the chicken slice in a mixture of the yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste and salt for one hour, and keep aside. Heat ghee in a lagan or handi, add the cumin seeds and sauté. Add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves. Sauté again till it crackles. Add the onions and sauté till golden brown. Add the tomatoes with powder masala and cook over high heat for a few minutes, stirring continuously. Add the Deggi mirchi, turmeric and garam masala powder and stir to mix. Add the chicken with the marinade and sauté for some time. Pour in chicken stock.

Stir in the rice and bring to a boil. Finally, cover the lid with dough and seal it. Cook on slow heat for a period of 10-15 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with caramelised onion, stir fried capsicum dices and chopped coriander.

Sonth Panak

Ginger sweet made with dry ginger

4 tablespoons grated jaggery
600 ml cold water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry ginger powder
4 crushed black peppercorns
½ teaspoon cardamom powder

Stir the jaggery in the water till it dissolves. Add all the other ingredients, stir and serve chilled.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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