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since April 1998
Galangal in Bengal
I like to cook Thai food. Many of the ingredients are available in Dhaka, but not all of them. Galangal, a ginger-like spice, is one thing I've never been able to find here. Substituting ginger for galangal in Thai recipes works, but it's just not quite the same.
So, on my last trip to Bangkok, I made the pilgrimage to the CDS grocery store where I did manage to find fresh galangal, complete with shoots, in the vegetable case. When I got back to Dhaka, I proudly gave the shoots to my gardener, explained what they were, and asked him to plant them.
But he just gave me a funny look and said, "it's dalonchapa". According to him, it does grow here, Bangladeshis just don't eat it. Hmmm ... I'll keep you posted as the saga unfolds: Will my shoots survive? If not (or even if they do), is galangal really the same as dalonchapa? And can my gardener find some to plant in my garden if my Thai shoots don't make it?
[13 May 98: They're growing - six out of six shoots made it. Watch this space for future updates! -Ed.]