Roots for Cooking Balinese Cuisine

Five kinds of roots!
Five kinds of roots!

I know ginger (jahe in bahasa). And turmeric (kunyit). I have heard of galanggal (laos or lengkuas) but then didn’t know where to source that locally anyway. But here it is, in Bali! And there’s another one called lesser galanggal (kencur). But there’s teeny-tiny one that is white inside, but I don’t remember the name. Anybody who does?

Those who are unfamiliar to ginger, since this will be the basis of my comparison, it will be quite difficult to understand. But ginger is very fragrant, and spicy especially when consumed raw, or when it is young. In the Philippines, it is cooked with most dishes to remove the fishy taste, like a cleanser. It’s also (obviously) a root. Quite tough, especially when mature. But when sliced into strips, can be eaten, though will provide a strong sharp taste.

Turmeric is mostly known for its vibrant color. We have that locally as well. I only learned to appreciate its flavor, which is mild, when I made Turmeric chicken.It also has some good properties for the body, (hence the juma post from the market) but I’m not sure how that works though. 😛 Smaller than ginger, and comes in darker skin as well.

Galanggal I have only read in cookbooks. Many mentioned to substitute ginger for it. But after smelling it, I realized you can’t. It’s like saying to substitute bird’s eye chili (labuyo) for bell pepper! Galanggal is still pungent but not as sharp as ginger. It smells more fruity/flowery than ginger, but on a mild level. I don’t know if it is spicy as well, but I would assume it is, but way less than ginger. Its size is the same as ginger, but darker root.

Lesser galanggal is  or kencur looks exactly like galanggal. It is only the smell that differs. This reminds me a bit of coriander, fruity and almost no sharp taste. Irony is its called lesser galanggal, but I honestly prefer the smell of this one. 🙂

Now the tiny unnamed root. 🙂 It is surprisingly sharp, and it has a white root inside the dark stem. Very fragrant, though unusual as well. Not spicy in scent, but really fragrant. Somebody give me this root! 🙂


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