“Health and more, ginger is loaded with nutrients”, says Dr. Kanchan Lamba
Want to relieve your bout of flu or sore throat? It is pouring, and the cold, wet weather has made you long for a hot beverage? Have a nice hot cup of ‘adrak-ki-chai’ – it is a time-tested formula known to reduce your sickness and infuse you with warmth. Hailed as the Czar of Spice, ginger is more than just a root; it is a panacea for numerous problems.
Called “Zingiber officinale” in the botanical world, fresh ginger is known as Spring Ginger which mellows while cooking. As a popular seasoning, it is one of the core ingredients not just in Far Eastern cuisine and Indian dishes but many global cuisines. It belongs to the same family as cardamom and turmeric.
Setting it apart:
What sets it apart is that it is an effective remedy for motion or sea-sickness. Its unique, sharp flavour comes from its oil, gingerol. Unlike its better half garlic, ginger can be used from savoury curries to desserts making the dish sing.
One of the healthiest spices in the botanical world, ginger is packed with healthy goodness making it useful in alternative medicines to not just fight cold but also to boost digestion and reduce nausea.
Ginger is a bioactive compound, and its sharp properties have a vast range of benefits which gives this root its mighty weight. Dr. Kanchan Lamba, Dietitian and Naturopath lists the immense benefits of this important spice. She highlights the fact that adrak is anti-fungal, anti-gaseous, anti-viral, and an antioxidant. She adds that it is excellent for people with diabetes and in type 2 diabetics as it is known to stabilize blood sugar. It is heart-friendly, prevents cancer and improves brain function, which helps in preventing Alzheimer.
Making us its die-hard fans is that it has almost nil calories. Well-known for a generation, its benefits span beyond flu, cold, sore throat and fights infection. Gingerol contains antioxidant and potent anti-inflammatory properties and works well in those suffering from osteoarthritis says Dr.Lamba.
Stomach pain and nausea can also be relieved by ginger. Its carminative property boosts digestion and gives relief from flatulence. It helps reduce nausea or vomiting after a surgery and is helpful in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. Therefore, ginger is rightly called a “superfood.”
For the pregnant women who are overcome by morning sickness, sip on ginger lemon tea. It is a rock-solid cure for those throw-ups.
However, ginger is known to be a ‘heaty’ food. It generates warmth and increases circulation. Hence, though it is effective for morning sickness, pregnant women need to be careful while having ginger. It is best is to consult your gynaecologist when it comes to adding it to your diet.
Cultivation and Harvesting:
The ideal climate for ginger cultivation is warm and moist with medium rainfall and irrigated soil. Yet it also requires dry weather of 27.5 degrees to 36 degrees Celsius for about a month before harvesting. The soil should be very fertile.
Sowing and Irrigation:
Ginger from Zingiberaceae family is a herbaceous perennial. India leads in the production of this root with states such as Orissa, Assam, Meghalaya, Gujarat and Karnataka contributing to more than 50% of its production.
It grows well in a warm and humid climate and is cultivated 1500 m above sea level. For successful farming of this crop, a moderate rainfall at sowing time and heavy and well-distributed showers during the growing period are considered good.
As mentioned, a dry spell must follow for about a month before harvesting. Drained loamy soil is best to grow ginger. It also thrives best in soils like red loam, sandy loam, clay loam, and soils rich in iron and aluminium. Water stagnation should be avoided. Ideal pH should be between 6-7.
Six months after planting, the crop is ready to be harvested. The signs are the leaves which turn yellow and slowly begin to dry up. The clumps are cautiously stoked with a farm fork or spade. This way the rhizomes are separated from the dried-up leaves, its roots and soil. It should be cleaned under running water as it is not easy to rinse the dirt from the cracks. The best method is to break the rhizome and allow the ginger to air-dry before storing or selling.
Though rhizomes can be preserved to replant next year, it is not advisable to grow ginger in the same soil which has been already used to cultivate ginger.
Nutrition in one tablespoon of ginger contains niacin, folate, zinc, vitamin B6 and riboflavin.
Not so spicy, not so sweet, here is a dish which is a treat!
Ginger is loaded with nutrients maintains Dr.Lamba.
With its numerous health goodies and multiple uses in cooking, here are some awesome and gratifying ways you can cook up your ‘Perfect 10’ dish.
Dice it, crush it, grate and juice it whichever way you want your ginger. Take a pick of the many recipes you will be proud to dish out.
Here are a few ideas:
Bake a cake and add ginger for some wicked zest. The pungency of ginger balances out the sweetness and you have a cake no one can get enough of!
Ginger chicken cooked in soy sauce and rice vinegar…this sticky chicken, scrumptious delish can cause a food riot. Enjoy!
Cold night and hot chocolate…add grated ginger to a cup of sizzling hot chocolate. Oh, my word…you will wish the drink never ends. Ok, lick your lips, we are not looking!
Ginger candies, gingerbread cookies…there are loads of dishes you can pick and choose from.
Check your ginger before buying. It should boast of a smooth stem and sharp smell. Keep aside ginger which has strands of ginger fibre.
Pregnant women must not gorge on ginger. Consult your doctor.