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A Most Aromatic Spice

Filed under Ford On Food

May 26, 2016

by Jason Ford
Ford on Food

In the history of spice, ginger would have to be one of the most famous and aromatic, besides pepper.

Its origins are not completely clear, as it has been mentioned in historical records from many corners of the world. Ginger also grows wild in many countries.

It is highly likely though that it was indigenous to South East Asia and was traded in China, the Middle East and India where it has been used for cooking and medicinal purposes for centuries.

Eventually it found its way into the early English bakeries. Gingerbread was the favourite sweat of Queen Elizabeth I.

The ginger that most people are accustomed to is the knobbly shaped root that grows underground from the tropical ginger plant.

The plant is an aromatic perennial that also blooms a spectacular red flower. This is where the term ‘Ginger’ (referring to a person with red hair) originates – a fact not lost on my red headed daughter.

These tuberous roots are referred to as ‘rhizomes’, a family that also includes turmeric, galangal and cardamom.

The ginger rhizome has a beige-coloured fibrous flesh covered in a scaly darker coloured skin.

Younger ginger is slightly sweeter and tender, while the late season ginger is sharper, hotter and more fibrous. However, all ginger is very aromatic.

Due to its shape, the whole ginger root is referred to as a ‘hand’ and the protruding tubes are the ‘fingers’.

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Gingered Chicken Kebabs


  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated fresh
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 red chilies, finely chopped
  • 250g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin peanut oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric, ground
  • 1 kg chicken breast, 2cm dice


  1. To make the marinade, combine the ginger, garlic, yoghurt, peanut oil, lime juice, coriander and turmeric in a bowl
  2. Add the chicken and marinade for 1 hour
  3. Thread the pieces of chicken onto bamboo skewers and a cook slowly on a barbeque for about 20 minutes, while basting with the marinade

Can be served on steamed rice with a fresh tossed salad.

Serves 4.

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