Ginger the Miracle Herb
By Kurma Dasa
is a very important and versatile culinary spice
of wide acclaim, but did you know that it is also an extremely powerful
healing herb? Ginger is the most popular of hundreds of members
of the Zingiberacea family. To be botanically correct, ginger is
a rhizome and not a root. It is available in many varieties, from
mild to spicy, and requires tropical conditions and fertile soil
for optimum growth.
Over millenia, millions of people have enjoyed the benefits of
ginger. For spiritual upliftment, digestive comfort and strength,
stimulation and relief from infirmity, ginger has been heralded
as the herb of choice, and has been included in most traditional
Eastern formulas. Ginger is aptly described in the traditional language
of Sanskrit as “vishwabhesaj”, the universal
Ginger has been used historically for wound healing, as an analgesic,
anti-arthritic, anti-ulcer, as a stimulant, as well as a powerful
treatment for a variety of respiratory, reproductive, and digestive
complaints. Ginger also shows great therapeutic potential in the
treatment of arthritis and cardiovascular disorders, and as a probiotic
The anti-nausea effect of ginger is well documented. Although I
didn’t know it at the time, ginger was one of the main ingredients
in the carsickness medicine I occasionally took as a young lad.
My first culinary experience of ginger was in 1974 in steamy West
Bengal, while visiting the holy city of Sridham Mayapur. On the
first morning, about one hundred others and I sat side by side,
cross-legged and expectant, along the cool marble-tiled verandahs
of the Chandrodaya Temple. Cool breezes wafted in from the serpentine
Mother Ganges that slithered majestically through nearby rice fields
This was to be our first meal in India – a multi-course breakfast
feast, in fact.
While memories of the exact menu have faded, I distinctly recall
the elegant yet simple entree – buttery chickpeas, served
with wafer-thin slices of tender young ginger with paper-thin pinkish
skin and greenish-ivory flesh, drenched in fresh lime juice and
sprinkled with salt. It was a sublime and tantalising experience
that the subsequent quarter century of eating experiences has not
Ginger still remains one of my well-loved kitchen favourites. I
relish its spicy, sweet aroma, its invigoratingly clean, hot sharp
taste, its digestive properties, and its cleansing effect on the
I’ll leave you with a delightful recipe for fresh ginger
chutney by Yamuna Devi, from her wonderful book 'Yamuna's Table'
Fresh Ginger Chutney
This is great as a refreshing accompaniment to virtually any savoury.
Preparation time: about 10 minutes
Makes about 1½ cups
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
¾ cup peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
½ cup diced dried papaya (or any dried fruit of your choice)
½ cup fresh or dried grated coconut
1½ teaspoons salt
Place the lime juice and half the orange juice in a blender
or food processor.
Add all the remaining ingredients, and process for about
Uncover and scrape down the sides of the container, then
add the remaining orange juice, and reduce the ingredients to a
Transfer to a ceramic or stainless steel bowl, and cover
until ready to serve.
Want to see more recipes? Click here.
<< Previous Essay Next