It has both culinary and medicinal uses. The fresh root is very woody and if you happen to find it, you will need to slice it very thin or grate it to add it to a dish, and the best use of the fresh root is in dishes that must be stewed or cooked for a long period of time.
As a medicine, Galangal was used in the Middle Ages as a snuff against Catarrh-a buildup of mucus in the nose or throat with associated symptoms of inflammation. Chewing the root was believed to prevent sea-sickness, vomiting or nausea. There is even rumor that it can be made into an aphrodisiac drink for men.
Galangal is featured in this recipe for wine pudding found in the Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55" Thomas Austin.
.xlvij. Cawdelle Ferry. — Take plkys of eyi-oun Raw, y-tryid fro the whyte ;• jmn take gode wyne, and warme it on j^e potte on a fayre Fyre, an caste ]7er-on plkys, and stere it wyl, but let it nowt boyle tylle it be ]7ikke ; and caste jjer-to Sugre, Safroun, & Salt, Maces, Gelofres, an Galyngale y-grounde smal, & flowre of Canelle; & whan ]>ovf dressyst yn, caste blanke ponder ))er-on.
Thank you Dan Myers for the cleaner version of this recipe :-)
xlvij - Cawdelle Ferry. Take 3olkys of eyroun Raw, y-tryid fro the whyte; than take gode wyne, and warme it on the potte on a fayre Fyre, an caste ther-on 3olkys, and stere it wyl, but let it nowt boyle tylle it be thikke; and caste ther-to Sugre, Safroun, and Salt, Maces, Gelofres, an Galyngale y-grounde smal, and flowre of Canelle; and whan thow dressyst yn, caste blanke pouder ther-on.
47. Caudell Ferry - Take yolks of eggs, raw, separated from the white, then take good wine and warm it on the pot on a fair fire, and caste there-on yolks, and stir it well, but let it not boil till it be thick, and caste there-to sugar, saffron, and salt, maces, gillyflowers and galangal ground small, and flour of cinnamon, and when you dress in, cast white powder there-on.
Interpreted Recipe Serves 1 as a Main, 2 as a Side
1 Cup Cabernet Sauvignon
3 Egg yolks -or- 1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1/8 Tsp. each mace and galingale
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of saffron
Pouder Douce to taste
Heat wine, saffron and cloves over a double boiler for five minutes after boiler starts to boil. Remove the cloves. Add Sugar, mace, galingale and cinnamon to the wine, and heat until dissolved. Temper the eggs with the heated wine, and add the tempered mixture to the remaining wine in the pot. Stir until the mixture thickens to taste. I made mine the consistency of a thick white sauce-it took approximately 5 minutes to thicken. Strain your pudding before serving to remove any lumps that may have formed, and any remaining cloves (in case you miscounted!). Right before serving sprinkle with Pouder Douce.
This went over very well with the taste testers. One tester remarked "it tastes like a pie filling". I served this warm, but I imagine that you would be able to store it refrigerated for a short period of time if you place plastic wrap upon the surface. A yucky skin forms *very quickly* on the pudding, which is why you don't see pouder douce in the picture :-(
I would definitely serve this again. This would be excellent for a royal luncheon. The saffron enhances the color of the wine, in this case a soft purple, and I really wanted to place a few gilded sugar paste candies on top. Alas, I did not have any on hand. The recipe calls for "gillyflowers" which is another name for "Clove Pinks" a member of the Dianthus family. Carnations are a close relative, if you have these flowers growing in your yard, I would suggest that you candy them, and reserve them throughout the year-as long as you have not sprayed them with pesticides or herbicides.
Forme of Cury (England, 1390)
Cawdel Ferry. XX.II. I. Take flour of Payndemayn and gode wyne. and drawe it togydre. do þerto a grete quantite of Sugur cypre. or hony clarified, and do þertosafroun. boile it. and whan it is boiled, alye it up with zolkes of ayrenn. and do þerto salt and messe it forth. and lay þeron sugur and powdour gyngur.
Liber cure cocorum [Sloane MS 1986] (England, 1430)
Kaudel Ferry. Take almondes unblanchyd, so have þou cele, And wasshe hom fayre and grynd hom wele. Temper hom up with wyne so clene, And drau3e hom þorowgh a canvas shene. In pot þou coloure hit with safron, And lye hit up with Amydone, Or with floure of ryse so fre. Ry3t thykke loke þou þat be. Seson hit withsugur grete plenté, Florysshe hit with maces, I tel þe.
A Noble Boke off Cookry (England, 1468)
To mak cawdelle ferry tak unblanched almonds wesshe them and grind them and temper them up with wyne and drawe it throughe a canvas into a pot and colour it with saffron and alay it up with amydon or flour of rise and se that it be thik sesson it with sugur and florishe it with maces and serue it.