Spices: Kencur | Lesser Galangal

There are two rhizomes that are members of the Ginger family often named Galanga, but shouldn’t be confused. Greater Galangal, or  Thai Ginger, can be seen here. Lesser Galangal, or Kencur, is the subject of this article.

Kencur | Lesser Galangal | Lesser Ginger

This is sometimes called lesser galangal or lesser ginger, but this is not quite correct as it is a different plant to galangal and ginger. It is an erect annual plant with aromatic rhizomes and yellow-brown roots, and is used as a flavouring. Its flavour is pungent and peppery citrus. The plant reportedly has stomach ache relieving properties and antimicrobial properties, is an antitussive and an antiflatulence agent.

The rhizomes consists of thin, light brown cylinders in a cluster. It is ginger-like with a unique, camphor or ginger-lemon flavour that is especially good with vegetable dishes or to give a citrus tang to soups. It should be used sparingly. It can be peeled, but it is not necessary to do so before use.

Dried kencur, sliced or powdered, can be used as a substitute; soak dried slices in boiling water for 30 minutes, or use 0.5 – 1 tspn in place of 2.5 cm fresh root.


Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series. You might also like our Spice information here.