December 2, 2017

Sarawakian Local Delights : Indigenous Red Ginger

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Halia merah or red ginger is grown by the Ibans in the high lands, where land is undulating. It is known as zingiber officinale var rubrum. It has a sharp taste and is more aromatic than nrmal ginger. It is also found growing wild in the hills of Sarawak.

Red Ginger is highly valued by Iban women and is used during traditional confinement especially. It is consumed as a warm tea and very often, a large amount is pounded and wrapped around the stomach area to give heat. It is believe that this will help shrink the uterus after child birth and at the same time warm up the body.

The Iban also boil the hairy fern or paku uban/kubuk with red ginger to help mothers increase lactation.

Scientifically. this ginger, like most other gingers, has excellent anti-inflammatory properties and is know to be effective for those with arthritis, carpal tunne;,etc. Drinking just a glass of juice from one knob of ginger on alternate days will help lessen pains.

Many healers have pounded the juice of red ginger and add it to apple cider vinegar. The redness with be preserved by the acid, whereas fresh red ginger juice when exposed to light will lose its colour very fast.

Red ginger can be added to salads, used for ordinary cooking and even made into a fragrant tea.
  It can be added to apple cider vinegar.  The red color seeps into the vinegar and is preserved by the acid.  Fresh red ginger exposed to light will fade within hours.

It is also an important ingredient in the making of Jamu in Java. The President of Indonesia Jokowi's jamu or secret herbal drink contains red ginger.


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