Ginger has been used for centuries by people from nearly all cultures. It has been used for flavouring food and its medicinal properties. As long ago as 77 AD Dioscorides, in his De Materia Medica wrote that ginger “warms and softens the stomach”.
It was introduced into Britain by the Romans, but fell into disuse after the fall of the Roman Empire. It was reintroduced during the Renaissance, and Queen Elizabeth I is credited as the creator of gingerbread men, which are still given to children at Christmastime.
Its name originally comes from Sanskrit, srngaveran, which means horn root, aptly describing its appearance. It became gingivere in Middle English, and hence, ginger. Its young rhizomes are preserved or crystallized and are known as stem ginger. The root that we refer to here is root ginger, as opposed to the sweet stem ginger
It has several medicinal uses. In India and China it is used for its anti-inflammatory qualities, and Ayurvedic practitioners believe that it heightens the properties of other herbs when they are eaten with it.
Studies have shown that it lowers cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure, and prevents blood clots, so it might prevent the onset of heart disease. These are big claims for a little root, but we know that it is good to gargle with an infusion of ginger root to help ease a sore throat when you have laryngitis. Again when drunk as a hot infusion, it increases perspiration, and is good if you feel a cold coming on. It is also an anti-spasmodic and helps to relieve muscle spasms in the legs and other parts of the body. It also stimulates blood circulation.
We use it almost every day in our cooking, for its taste, although of course we know that it can treat us too.
Why not try the recipe below, or one of our others which include ginger?
Marinaded Ginger Chicken
4 tbsp cooking oil of your choice
4 inches ginger root
6 cloves garlic
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
250 gr. tomatoes
7-8 hot green chillies
1 bunch coriander
1 small onion
Grind all the above ingredients to make a paste.
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp ground turmeric
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 inch cinnamon stick
4 green cardamoms
Grind these together to make a spice powder and mix into the paste.
4 chicken pieces.
Now make slashes in the chicken flesh (it’s better if you remove the skin) and cover it completely with the new paste. You should rub it into the cuts you have made so that the flavours will seep into the meat. Put it in the fridge for 2 hours.
You can either cook this on a low heat on the hob, in which case you should cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and leave it for 45 mins; or, you can put it in the oven on a low setting. In this case check it so that it doesn’t become brown. Depending on the heat of your oven it should be ready in half an hour to an hour
Serve garnished with slivers of ginger root, mint. and squeeze lemon over it to taste.
It’s a treat and has taste!