Boost Metabolism With Galangal

Kolo Kai Organic Farm, a 10-acre certified organic farm in Moloaa, specializes in growing turmeric and three varieties of ginger. The Ferrises began growing organic fruits and vegetables in 1980. Since 1999, fresh ginger has been their primary product.

What’s growing now: Apple bananas, avocado, citrus, galangal (Thai ginger), parsley, turmeric, white ginger, yellow ginger.


Galangal is a close relative of ginger and a primary ingredient in the foods of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, especially Thailand. The flavor is similar to ginger, with floral notes and pronounced heat. In Europe, the root has been used for more than 1,000 years and was likely introduced by Arabian or Greek physicians.

Season: On Kauai, galangal grows year-round.

What to look for: Purchase fresh rhizomes that are crisp, evenly colored and have taut skin.

Storage: Keep unpeeled roots in a plastic bag or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Preparation: Galangal is combined with ginger and lemongrass in Thai cooking, and white pepper and/or cayenne for seasoning fish, meat or poultry. It is used in Thai soups such as Lao tom yum and tom kha gai.

In Russia, it’s used to flavor vinegar and the liqueur nastoika. In Lithuania and Estonia, galangal is a favorite spice and medicine. When cutting, use a sharp knife, as roots are tough and difficult to break.

Health benefits: As a stimulant and carminative, it is especially useful for flatulence, dyspepsia, vomiting, upset stomach and seasickness. In Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medical system of India, galangal is used to clear the mind and boost metabolism.

Kolo Kai Organic Farm produce can be found at: Grocery: Papaya’s Natural Foods and Cafe, Hoku Foods Natural Market, Harvest Market. Farmers Markets: Tuesdays in Waipa and Thursdays in Kilauea. Restaurants: Kauai Ono. Call 828-1712 for details.


If you need a little jolt to get you through holiday preparations, try this flavorful chai tea. You can pick up the ingredients at Papaya’s, Hoku or Harvest Market. Once you have everything, it comes together in a snap. Makes four servings.

* 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves

* 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander

* 1/2-inch piece fresh galangal

* 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns

* 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

* 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds

* 1 teaspoon whole all-spice

* 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

* 1 whole star anise

* 3 cinnamon sticks

* 3 cups cold water

* 1 heaping tablespoon strong black tea leaves

* 2 cups milk

* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* sweetener, to taste

Combine whole spices in a mortar and lightly crush. Pour water into saucepan, add spices, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add tea leaves and steep for four minutes.

In another pot, heat milk to just below a simmer. Strain tea into pot; add milk, vanilla extract and sweetener.

Marta Lane is a Kauai-based food writer. For more information, visit