Ginger originated in South Asia; in fact, the word ginger goes back to the old English gingifere, which in turn goes back to the Tamil inji ver.
What we consume as ginger is the root ofZingiber officinale, which belongs to the same plant family as turmeric, cardamom and galangal. Dried, ground ginger is a warming spice, used across a host of cuisines and cultures. It’s popular in European baking, in gingerbread, gingersnaps and ginger biscuits; and in almost every other curry and dal preparation in South Asia. Ginger goes into Malaysian rice (popularly cooked in chicken broth and eaten with fried chicken); in China it is used in various fish and chicken dishes.
Ginger is also pickled and eaten, as in Japan where it is an accompaniment to sushi; or as in the gyin-thot salad in Myanmar or the kimchi in Korea. Ginger’s medicinal properties also make it a popular ingredient in tea in China, Japan, the Philippines; and India, where it is used in masala tea. If you’re one for coffee, then head to West Asia, where ginger powder is used to spice coffee and milk.
Eat it this way
Ginger-infused Barley Broth
Spice it up: Onions, celery and spinach are used in the broth.
• 200ml vegetable stock
• 20g barley, soaked overnight
• 40g spinach
• 20g button mushroom, sliced
• 10g onion, chopped
• 10g ginger, chopped
• 6g celery, chopped
• 15ml olive oil
• Salt to taste
• Pepper to taste
Heat a medium-sized saucepan over moderate heat and add olive oil.
Add the chopped ginger, onion and celery and sauté until the onions start to sweat. Add the sliced mushroom and barley; cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock. Give it a boil and simmer for another 3-5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, tear spinach leaves with your hands, add to the boiling soup and serve.
—Vishal Atreya, The Imperial, New Delhi.