“I am an urban creature, born in a city,” Rabindranath Tagore said about himself. And yet, he composed some of the most stirring poems about nature and gardens and love.
“Your smile, my love, like the smell of a strange flower,
is simple and inexplicable.” – Tagore
If I may be so bold as to paraphrase him, I happen to also be an “urban creature;” perhaps the reason why I am so humbled when I manage to grow anything; and in this case, ginger.
I planted a small piece of ginger root about four years ago in a large pot with good soil, and since, it has been giving, most generously, long leaves while extending its roots.
I remain at awe when I take out the roots and gently place them under running water. The pink and white shades of the ginger slowly emerge and release a most enchanting fragrance.
I actually discovered fresh ginger root rather late. It was when I started to do some “real” cooking while a graduate student in New York City. Before that, I had only known the dried powder variety most common in stores in Paris, where I grew up. At home, it was only used when making Moroccan food and only the dry powder. I had never seen a ginger root before that.
I discovered it with Asian food, especially Japanese. The first time I ventured into eating the raw ginger that is served along with sashimi, it seemed that a new wonderland of taste had opened up. Years later, when I lived in India it had become a constant in the kitchen. In New Delhi, I bought it regularly from an toothless perpetually smiling gentleman who sat on the ground with mounts of ginger and lime. He always added some extra roots for me…
So good for you…
According to Ayurveda principles, ginger stimulates the digestive system and thus helps in cleansing the system of “ama.” “Ama” is food residues that go undigested and can harm your health when it builds up. Ginger is a great remedy in case of constipation, and it also helps reduce inflammation and the effects of nausea. It is a traditional remedy for morning sickness for pregnant women in many parts of Asia.
On the technical side, ginger can be grown outdoors as well as indoors. It should receive plenty of light. In winter, the plant tends to slow down while the roots are still growing gently inside the soil. The plant should be brought indoors if the temperature drops below 10º c. In this case, I just leave it on a table in the kitchen next to the window so that it may get some natural light. It does fine.
I harvest the roots every three months or so, and then replant a small root with a stem attached in the same pot.
Many recipes in fig & lemon contain ginger, and not just recipes inspired from Asia. If you put “ginger” in the search square provided on the right hand side of the screen, you will get more than 50 recipes.
Of course it goes very well with any fish dish such as tuna with honey and ginger, wild salmon with rosemary and ginger, or Mediterranean fish. You may also want to try it with rose petals such as this recipe for sardines with ginger, mango and rose petals.
It can also be added to chicken, as this delicious Thai chicken cooked gently in the oven with ginger, lemon and honey; as well as with meat, as with this Persian ground beef cooked with the spice mix Adviyeh.
Eaten raw it is also delicious. It can be sprinkled on salads or a soothing fruit platter. The latter is wonderful if you decide to go on a 24 hour fruit only diet, one thing you may try doing from time to time to cleanse and re-caliber your digestive system. I do so regularly, especially after a long trip when inevitably one’s digestive system gets slightly confused.
Oh and I almost forgot. It is a delight when added to soups, especially carrot soup. It goes very well with sweet potato or any gourd soup for that matter, such as pumpkin or squash.
A wonderful way to cleanse your system is also what I called feel good tea, not a very original name but it is exactly what it does. I make it regularly when I feel off center physically or mentally! It helps balance out your system and it is most soothing. You need not be off center to drink it though…
Flower in a strange land…
Ginger is a constant now in the kitchen and I am grateful I was able to harvest some fresh roots this morning. It is a resilient plant and its roots grow very fast. Try and plant some. If I, as an “urban creature” can do it, I am sure anyone can.
“An unknown flower in a strange land
speaks to the poet:
‘Are we not of the same soil, my lover? ‘” – Tagore.
As urban creatures, are we not indeed?