Sunday, 19 February 2017

Bunga Kantan, Not The Same As Galangal

Etlingera Elatior or Torch Ginger
The bud of the Etlingera elatior flower

The flower of the Etlingera elatior

The Etlingera elatior plant

Etlingera elatior (also known as torch ginger, ginger flower, red ginger lily, torch lily, wild ginger, combrang, bunga kantan, Philippine wax flower, 火炬姜 (pinyin: Huǒjù jiāng), Indonesian tall ginger, boca de dragón, rose de porcelaine, and porcelain rose) is a species of herbaceous perennial plant. Botanical synonyms include Nicolaia elatior, Phaeomeria magnifica, Nicolaia speciosa, Phaeomeria speciosa, Alpinia elatior, and Alpinia magnifica.

The showy pink flowers are used in decorative arrangements, while the flower buds are an important ingredient in the Nonya dish laksa. In North Sumatra (especially in Karo tribe), the flower buds are used for a stewed fish is called Arsik ikan mas (Andaliman/Szechuan pepper-spiced carp). In Bali, people are used the white part of the bottom part trunk for cooking chilli sauce called "Sambal Bongkot", and used the flower buds to make chilli sauce called "Sambal Kecicang". In Thailand, it is eaten in a kind of Thai salad preparation.

In Karo, it is known as asam cekala (asam meaning 'sour'), and the flower buds, but more importantly the ripe seed pods, which are packed with small black seeds, are an essential ingredient of the Karo version of sayur asam, and are particularly suited to cooking fresh fish.

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Bunga kantan
Etlingera elatior (Torch Ginger or Ginger Flower) in flower
Bunga kantan yang banyak dijadikan bahan memasak dalam masakan Melayu

Pokok Bunga Kantan atau juga dikenali sebagai bunga siantan merupakan sejenis pokok saka herba.

Bunga pokok ini yang berwarna merah muda banyak digunakan sebagai gubahan hiasan manakala tunas bunga ini dijadikan bahan memasak dalam masakan Melayu seperti laksa dan nasi kerabu. Dibungkus seperti sayuran dan tak sesuai diletakkan dalam plastik.

Tumbuhan ini mengandungi banyak bahan antioksida yang amat baik untuk kesihatan.

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Etlingera elatior (torch ginger) or bunda kantan
Etlingera elatior (torch ginger); fruits

Etlingera elatior is native to Indonesia, Malesia, and southern Thailand. However, this species is widely cultivated and can be found naturalized in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.

Etlingera elatior is a coarse herb often growing in large colonies.

Pseudostems (shoots) 3-6 m tall. Leaves numerous; ligule to 1.5 cm long, shortly 2-lobed, glabrous; petiole 1.5-4 cm long; leaf blades lanceolate, 38-85 × 8-18 cm, glabrous. Inflorescence a terminal, ovoid head of spirally imbricated flowers, surrounded at base by showy involucral bracts; peduncle 60-150 × 0.8-1.5 cm, clothed with green, glabrous sheaths; involucral bracts 3-6 × 2-3 cm, spreading, the upper obtuse to emarginate, the lower abruptly narrowed to a caudate tip, crimson-pink, glabrous; floral bracts similar to involucral bracts but pinkish, smaller; bracteoles tubular, approximately 2 cm long, unilaterally split; calyx 3-4 cm long, unilaterally split, the apex 3- toothed; corolla pink to red, sometimes white; labellum deep crimson with white or yellow margin; filament short, flat, whitish pubescent; anther red, longer than filament.

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Khasiat bunga kantan

Bunga kantan atau nama saintifiknya etlingera elatior sangat terkenal dalam masakan. Bunga kantan yang masih belum kembang banyak digunakan dalam masakan tempatan seperti dijadikan perencah untuk membuat kuah laksa dan juga digunakan dalam masakan asam pedas sebagai pembangkit aroma.

Ia juga sesuai dicampurkan dalam makanan kering seperti kerabu yang dapat memberi rasa yang enak. Selain sebagai penambah bau dan rasa dalam makanan, bunga kantan juga mempunyai khasiatnya yang tersendiri.

Warnanya yang merah muda mengandungi bahan antioksida iaitu karotinoid yang baik untuk kesihatan. Antioksida yang terkandung dapat mengurangkan risiko seseorang untuk mendapat penyakit barah selain dapat mengekalkan awet muda.

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KANTAN: Phaeomeria speciosa

Kantan atau lebih dikenali sebagai bunga kantan adalah dari keluarga halia (zingiberaceae). Ada sesetengah masyarakat menggelarkan pokok bunga kantan sebagai bunga siantan. Ia merupakan sejenis pokok herba jenis berumpun saka yang hidup subur di kawasan tropika terutama di Asia Tenggara.

Ianya sangat sinonim dengan masakan laksa dan nasi kerabu sebagai bahan perisa dan penambah rasa kerana bunga kantan mempunyai rasa segar dan agak pedas. Kelopak bunga kantan yang belum berkembang boleh dihiris halus dan dijadikan kerabu atau dijadikan ulam ulaman. Ia juga menjadikan makanan tambah menarik kerana warna bunga kantan yang berwarna merah jambu kekal apabila dimasak.

Di Malaysia, bunga kantan ditanam secara komersial di sekitar Selangor, Perak, Johhor dan Pahang. Ia juga ditanam secara selingan di kawasan penanaman kelapa sawit dan getah kerana tumbuhan rimbun ini memerlukan kawasan yang teduh dan bersaliran baik untuk hidup subur. Ianya ditanam secara kecil kecilan di keliling rumah atau secara komersial kerana khasiat yang terkandung di dalam bunga , batang dan umbi kantan sangat berguna untuk kesihatan manusia.

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Bunga Kantan

I came across these lovely Bunga Kantan (ginger flower) at the market this morning. As many will know, it is an essential ingredient for Nonya dishes such as Assam Laksa and Gulai Tumis (both curry dishes). They are usually sliced into half for cooking and give an exotic flavour to the dish! These flowers are mostly home grown and those I saw were being sold at RM1.00 each.

I remember one dish we used to make - Timbun Jum (Cucumber Salad) - slices of cucumber, Bunga Kantan, small onions, pounded red chillies all thrown together and topped with a dash of lime for extra zap!

Some people even use the flowers for floral arrangement as they are so pretty! This is how it looks like inside when halved.

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Bunga kantan have health benefits?
DELICIOUS BEAUTY: Bunga kantan buds are sold at the Stutong Market
NATURAL DESIGN: The intricate patterns of a sliced bunga kantan bud

Torch ginger (Etlingera elatior), better known locally as bunga kantan, is a popular ingredient in Nyonya and Malay cooking that could also have health benefits. The flower buds harvested from the jungle can be found at markets such as the Stutong Community Market here.

According to a seller at the market, bunga kantan is believed to have many benefits including as a natural libido enhancer. This member of the ginger family is also said to reduce inflammation, treat a loss of appetite, reduce diabetes and hypertension. The bunga kantan seller added that the pleasant fragrance and tangy flavour of the petals greatly enhance dishes such as asam laksa and tom yam soup.

This flamboyant flower of the wild is also beautiful to behold, including the intricate pattern revealed by a sliced bud. Torch ginger is now widely cultivated around the world and can grow up to six metres tall.

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Torch Ginger Flower (Bunga Kantan)
Not all spice decisions are easy, especially when you're looking down at the large pinkish bud of a torch ginger flower (Etlingera elatior)

Do you kneel down and run your fingers over the waxy outer petals, imagining the explosion of pink colors building up inside; lean in and smell the essence of the tropics with its sweet floral fragrance and a faint hint of ginger; close your eyes and wish that the moment you open them, you are blinded by the bloom of the most majestic pink flower in the world? Or do you just snip off the bud and take it back to your kitchen?

Probably best to plant two - Shooting straight up from the ground and topped with layers of fiery bright pink, red or white petals, the tropical perennial plant - part of the ginger family - shares a close resemblance to a flaming torch. Hence the name - Torch Ginger Flower. Mesmerizing spectators with its striking appearance only reveals half of its beauty. The other half can be found in the exotic, sweet, flowery, piquant flavor of the waxy flower bud, which is high in antioxidants and antibacterial properties. When the bud is thinly sliced or shredded, it becomes a spice in many salads, sauces, and dips throughout its native home of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

In Malaysia - where the spice is called bunga kantan - it is an indispensable ingredient in Malay and Nyonya (Chinese-Malay) cuisine, where the buds are used to zest up curries and seafood stews. The fresh spice has the power to mask strong fishy tastes, as it does in the famous Penang asam laksa - a soury fish stew with a complex balance of flavors. In Singapore, the buds are called Rojak Flowers because of their use in fruit rojak - a popular spicy fruit and vegetable salad dish. But whatever you call this exotic flower - Torch Ginger, Ginger Flower, Red Ginger Lily, Torch Lily, Wild Ginger, Rojak Flowers, Combrang, Bunga Siantan, Philippine Wax Flower, Xiang Bao Jiaing, Indonesian Tall Ginger, Boca de Dragón, Bunga Kantan, Rose de Porcelaine, Porcelain Rose, Daalaa, Bunga Kecombrang, or Honje - just remember to plant two.

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Galangal, Not The Same As Ginger

Galangal is called khaa in Thailand and is not the same as ginger. However, the cooking process for this Thai food ingredient is the same as that for cooking ginger. Galangal has a distinct peppery flavour and is used in curry pastes, stir fried dishes and soups. Some grocery stores also stock dried galangal, but you should always use fresh galangal if available.

What is Galangal, Is It The Same As Ginger - At first, galangal or 'Khaa' in Thai, appears similar to ginger. However a closer look will reveal the difference between galangal and ginger. Galangal has a tighter skin, is lighter in color and can have pinkish portions too. All of us know the taste and flavour of ginger, Galangal tastes more like pepper than ginger. Coming to the similarities between galangal and ginger, both grow underground and the method used to cook them (in various dishes) is similar too. Fresh galangal is now available in the west and it's easy availability, makes people confuse it with ginger. There are two types of galangal, one of them has a stronger flavour as compared to the other. We have discussed this in more detail below.

Types Of Galangal, Flavour And Aroma Of Galangal - For those of you who are keen to know the specific types of Galangal, here is an interesting piece of information. The galangal that originated in Indonesia is also called, lengkuas and has a sharp flavour and pine like aroma. This is the galangal that is more commonly found in fresh or dried (powder) form in the west. The second type of galangal, has a pungent flavour and tastes like a combination of pepper and ginger. This galangal is believed to have it's origin in southern parts of China. This type of Galangal is popular in Thailand and locally called krachaai. The flavour of galangal would therefore depend on the type of galangal, the pine like aroma comes from the galangal that originated in Indonesia. Most Westerners would know this type of galangal.

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Galangal – Health Benefits and Side Effects
Galangal Roots (Rhizomes) (Alpinia officinarum) Botanical Name: Alpinia officinarum

Other Common Names: Lesser galangal, small galangal, galanga, galingale, gargaut, India root, east India root, east India catarrh root, China root, Chinese ginger, Siamese ginger, ginger root, colic root, lille galangarod (Danish), Echter Galgant (German), gao liang jiang (Chinese). Galangal is endemic to Thailand, Vietnam and Southeast China and today it is cultivated on a large-scale in many countries in Southeast Asia, primarily in China, Malaysia, Thailand and India. Galangal is a perennial plant of the Zingiberaceae family (the ginger family) that can grow up to five feet or 150 cm in height. It has a dark reddish-brown, cylindrical and fleshy rootstock (rhizome).

The flower stems are long, narrow with lanceolate leaves that surround the stem as a sheath. The orchid-like flowers are white with red veins. The fruits are red fleshy berries the size of a pea that usually contain three dark brown seeds with rather unpleasant taste. Galangal is closely related to languas galanga (Alpinia galanga) and ginger (Zingiber officinale).

Plant Parts Used: The fresh or dried rootstock (rhizome) are used in herbal medicine. The rhizomes are harvested at the end of the growing season from plants that are 4-6 years old. The herb is highly aromatic and has mild spicy flavor.

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Galangal or Lengkuas
Lesser Galangal (Alpinia officinarum)

Galangal rhizome ready to be prepared for cooking

Galangal or Lengkuas is a common name that is loosely attributed to any of several tropical rhizomatous spices.

The word galangal, or its variant galanga, can refer in common usage to the aromatic rhizome of any of four plant species in the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family, namely:
  • Alpinia galanga, or greater galangal
  • Alpinia officinarum, or lesser galangal
  • Kaempferia galanga, also called kencur, black galangal or sand ginger
  • Boesenbergia rotunda, also called Chinese ginger or fingerroot
Various galangal rhizomes are used in traditional Asian cuisines, such as Thai and Lao tom yum and tom kha gai soups, Vietnamese Huế cuisine (tré) and throughout Indonesian cuisine, as in soto). Polish Żołądkowa Gorzka vodka is flavoured with galangal. While all varieties of galangal are closely related to common ginger, and all exhibit some resemblance to the hot, spicy flavor of ginger, each is unique in its own right, and galangals are not typically regarded as synonymous with ginger or each other in traditional Asian dishes.

In ethnobotany, each of the various galangals are attributed with specific medical virtues. In commerce, galangals are commonly available in Asian markets as whole fresh rhizome, or in dried and sliced, or powdered form.

Alpinia officinarum or lesser galangal
Alpinia galanga, or greater galangal (blue ginger)
Kaempferia galanga
Boesenbergia rotunda

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Health Benefits Of Lemongrass (Serai)

The health benefits of lemongrass include relief from stomach disorders, insomnia, respiratory disorders, fever, aches, infections, rheumatism and edema. The defensive antioxidant activity of the lemongrass herb protects against antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and helps in maintaining optimum cholesterol levels, cellular health, nervous system, healthy skin and immune system. It is also effective in treating type 2 diabetes, cancer, and obesity, while also aiding in detoxification. It is extensively used in aromatherapy and helps to combat fatigue, anxiety and body odor.

Lemongrass contains antioxidants, flavonoids and phenolic compounds such as luteolin, glycosides, quercetin, kaempferol, elimicin, catecol, chlorogenic acid, and caffeic acid, all of which help in providing an impressive range of medicinal aids. The main component of lemongrass is lemonal or citral, which has anti-fungal and antimicrobial qualities, while also providing a distinct lemony smell. Some of the most well known health benefits of lemongrass include:

Health Benefits Of Lemongrass:
  • Cholesterol
  • Detoxification
  • Cancer
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Stomach Disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Respiratory Disorders
  • Fever
  • Infections
  • Aches
  • Nervous System
  • Type-2 Diabetes
  • Rheumatism
  • Immune System
  • Skin Care
  • Cellular Health
  • Edema
  • Aromatherapy
  • Obesity
  • Body Odor
  • Insect Repellant
  • Culinary Usage

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Lengkuas merupakan sejenis rizom dengan kegunaan masakan dan perubatan, dan banyak digunakan di Asia Tenggara. Rupanya hampir sama dengan halia. Lengkuas merupakan tanaman tempatan di Asia Tenggara.

Lengkuas sentiasa digunakan dalam masakan untuk menambah aroma seperti masakan pedas, laksa penang, sup singgang dan boleh digunakan untuk masakan goreng. Dalam bidang perubatan, lengkuas boleh melegakan sakit perut, selsema dan agen antibakteria.

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What's the Difference Between Galangal and Ginger?

Have you ever picked up what you thought was a hand of ginger to find yourself with something that looked quite similar, but tasted nothing like what you're expecting? Chances are you picked up galangal — an honest mistake, since these two members of the rhizome family look ridiculously similar. So what really is galangal and how does it compare to ginger?

The Difference Between Galangal and Ginger - Both galangal and ginger are rhizomes, a type of underground creeping stem of a plant that sends out shooters to create new plants, in the ginger family (turmeric and cardamom are also in this family). Their biggest difference is their taste: galangal has a sharp citrusy, almost piney flavor, while ginger is fresh, pungently spicy, and barely sweet — that means that they cannot be used interchangeably.

Galangal - Galangal is also know as Thai ginger or Siamese ginger (because it resembles fresh ginger so much), but it really is its own ingredient. It's commonly found in Thai, Indonesian, and Malaysian cooking. The skin of galangal is smoother and paler than ginger and its flesh is much harder. It can't be grated like ginger can, but instead must be sliced. The flavor of galangal is much stronger too; it's earthy, sharp, and extra citrusy.

Ginger - Galangal's more well-known cousin, ginger, has a softer brown skin that can easily be peeled with a spoon and a softer flesh that can easily be grated. Its flavor, while also quite pungent, isn't as strong as galangal's. Instead it is mildly spicy and just a tad sweet.

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