Galangal

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that help baby poop. Yes
Common Allergen: No
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a whole raw piece of galangal ready to be prepared for babies starting solids

When can babies eat galangal?

Galangal may be introduced into meals as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.

Where does galangal come from?

Galangal is the common name for a sprawling family of plants from Southeast Asia cultivated for its edible flowers, leaves, and knobby underground stems called rhizomes. The rhizomes can be eaten fresh, frozen, dehydrated, or ground into powder. Galangal and ginger share a plant family, and while they look similar, there are differences in flavor. For example, one variety called lesser galangal, kencur, and shajiang has tan skin, creamy flesh, and a peppery, piney flavor. A larger variety called greater galangal, kha, laos, and lengkuas has pink-tinged skin and flesh with a lemony taste. There are even plants called galangal from different species, like fingerroot (also called krachai and temu kunci), which has a zestier bite.

Cooper, 11 months, eats galangal cooked into black beans.

Is galangal healthy for babies?

Yes. While galangal is usually eaten in small amounts, it still offers many health properties. Besides providing an array of phytonutrients, galangal also contains healthy oils, fibers, carbohydrates, and traces of vitamins and minerals.1 2

You can purchase whole, raw galangal, as well as dried slices of galangal, or in jars as a paste. Store-bought galangal paste may include ingredients such as sugar and salt, which extend the product’s shelf-life, but should be minimized in a baby’s diet when possible.

★Tip: When shopping, look for fresh galangal with firm texture, taut skin, and no wrinkles. Store fresh galangal in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for 2 months. Dehydrated galangal slices can be stored at room temperature in the pantry for a few months.

Can babies or toddlers have galangal tea?

Yes, after the first birthday, if served lukewarm and with no or minimal added sweeteners. Do not give tea or beverages besides breast (human) milk or formula (or small amounts of water) to babies under 12 months of age to ensure that the necessary nutrition from breast (human) milk or formula isn’t displaced by other drinks.

Can galangal help sick babies and toddlers?

Galangal has long been used to relieve many ailments, including soothing colds and stomachaches. Galangal has also been studied for its antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antimicrobial, and many other benefits, as well as for its ability to improve blood circulation, alleviate vomiting, and more.3 4 5 That said, data regarding the safety of galangal in therapeutic applications for babies is insufficient, so consult with your pediatric healthcare provider before using galangal as a remedy for baby.

If a baby or toddler is feeling sick and you would like to offer galangal, use a small amount of fresh, powdered, or paste forms of galangal in an age-appropriate meal.

Can galangal help baby poop?

Yes. Galangal offers small amounts of fiber and other components that, in combination with a balanced and varied diet, can help support overall digestive health and bowel regularity.6 7 8 Note that pooping patterns can vary significantly from child to child. Be sure to talk to your pediatric healthcare provider if you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function.

Is galangal a common choking hazard for babies?

No. When used in culinary applications (grated, sliced, powdered, etc.), galangal is not a common choking hazard for babies, though in theory a baby or toddler could choke on a knob or large slice of galangal if they were able to get their hands on one. To minimize the risk, thinly slice or grate fresh galangal. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during mealtimes. For more information on choking, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Is galangal a common allergen?

No, galangal is not a common allergen, though it can occasionally provoke an allergic-type rash if it touches the skin.9 Individuals with very sensitive skin or a history of developing contact rashes may want to wear gloves when preparing galangal. If a rash does develop, wash the affected area with soap and water.

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.

How do you prepare galangal for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 12 months old: Use a pinch or two of freshly grated galangal to season baby’s meals, or stir it into soft, scoopable foods like congee (rice porridge), moong dal (stewed lentils), or porridge. Alternatively, make a galangal sauce that tastes great with fish, meat, tempeh, or any vegetable.

12 to 18 months old: Continue seasoning the child’s food with fresh (grated or slivered) or powdered galangal as desired. This is a great age to explore a wide range of spices, including galangal in bean dishes, curries, stewed meats, and stir-fries. Galangal teas, served warm but not hot, are also fine at this age and make for great practice with an open cup.

18 to 24 months old: Continue serving galangal in your toddler’s food and dishes as you like. Try adding galangal to smoothies or making a galangal limeade, galangal tamarind juice, or homemade “orange” juice with carrots and galangal.

Learn which nutrients are most important for vegetarian and vegan babies in our guide, Best & Worst Plant-Based Foods for Babies.

What are recipe ideas with galangal for babies and toddlers?

Use fresh or powdered galangal in salad dressings, soups, and stews. Try it in rice-based dishes, or grate fresh galanagal into marinades for vegetables, seafood, and meats like gà bản đến nướng, a black chicken dish from Vietnam. Or get inspired by other recipes from Southeast Asia, where the brightness of galangal is often paired with the creamy flavor of coconut, as in spicy noodle soups (like laksa from Singapore) or chicken, coconut, and galangal soup (like tom kha gai from Thailand).

★Tip: Peel and cut fresh galangal into 1-inch knobs, then freeze the knobs in an air-tight container. At mealtime, take out a frozen knob and proceed with the recipe. (No need to thaw.)

Recipe: Citrusy Galangal Marinade

Yield: ½ cup (120 milliliters)
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 1-inch knob fresh galangal
  • 3 tablespoons (45 milliliters) orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) lime juice
  • ¼ cup (60 milliliters) peanut oil (optional) 
  • salt to taste for adults and older children (optional: 12 months+)

This recipe contains a common allergen: peanut. Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.

Directions

  1. Wash, dry, and peel the galangal root.
  2. Finely chop the galangal, then mash the galangal to create a paste. You can use a high-powered food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle to speed up this task, but if you don’t have one, just use the flat side of a knife. Simply lay the flat side of your knife on the finely chopped galangal, then pound it a few times with your fist.
  3. Mix together the galangal paste, orange juice, and lime juice until the sauce is fully blended.
  4. Whisk the peanut oil into the marinade, and feel free to substitute whatever oil you have on hand. Oil can be customized to meet your tastes. Avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil—they all taste delicious! 
  5. Use a small amount (1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of sauce to season baby’s fresh fruit or cooked vegetables. If you like, you can mix salt into the marinade to season fresh fruit, salads, and cooked meat and fish for adults and older children.

To Store: Citrusy Galangal Marinade keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 days.

Flavor Pairings

Galangal pairs well with the flavors of beef, chicken, eggplant, green beans, rice, and tempeh.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MS, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist®

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist

J. Sage, Herbalist

K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Thai Food Composition (n.d.) Galangal. Mahidol University, Institute of Nutrition. Retrieved May 19, 2022
  2. Basri, A. M., Taha, H., & Ahmad, N. (2017). A Review on the Pharmacological Activities and Phytochemicals of Alpinia officinarum (Galangal) Extracts Derived from Bioassay-Guided Fractionation and Isolation. Pharmacognosy reviews, 11(21), 43–56. DOI: 10.4103/phrev.phrev_55_16. Retrieved May 19, 2022
  3. Basri, A. M., Taha, H., & Ahmad, N. (2017). A Review on the Pharmacological Activities and Phytochemicals of Alpinia officinarum (Galangal) Extracts Derived from Bioassay-Guided Fractionation and Isolation. Pharmacognosy reviews, 11(21), 43–56. DOI: 10.4103/phrev.phrev_55_16. Retrieved May 19, 2022
  4. Ahlina, F. N., Nugraheni, N., Salsabila, I. A., Haryanti, S., Da’i, M., & Meiyanto, E. (2020). Revealing the Reversal Effect of Galangal (Alpinia galanga L.) Extract Against Oxidative Stress in Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells and Normal Fibroblast Cells Intended as a Co- Chemotherapeutic and Anti-Ageing Agent. Asian Pacific journal of cancer prevention : APJCP, 21(1), 107–117. DOI: 10.31557/APJCP.2020.21.1.107. Retrieved May 19, 2022
  5. Ghosh, S., & Rangan, L. (2013). Alpinia: the gold mine of future therapeutics. 3 Biotech, 3(3), 173–185. DOI: 10.1007/s13205-012-0089-x. Retrieved May 19, 2022
  6. Thai Food Composition (n.d.) Galangal. Mahidol University, Institute of Nutrition. Retrieved May 19, 2022
  7. Basri, A. M., Taha, H., & Ahmad, N. (2017). A Review on the Pharmacological Activities and Phytochemicals of Alpinia officinarum (Galangal) Extracts Derived from Bioassay-Guided Fractionation and Isolation. Pharmacognosy reviews, 11(21), 43–56. DOI: 10.4103/phrev.phrev_55_16. Retrieved May 19, 2022
  8. Srivastava, N., Ranjana, Singh, S., Gupta, A. C., Shanker, K., Bawankule, D. U., & Luqman, S. (2019). Aromatic ginger (Kaempferia galanga L.) extracts with ameliorative and protective potential as a functional food, beyond its flavor and nutritional benefits. Toxicology reports, 6, 521–528. DOI: 10.1016/j.toxrep.2019.05.014. Retrieved May 19, 2022
  9. Hong, S. J., & Chang, C. H. (2006). Erythema multiforme-like generalized allergic contact dermatitis caused by Alpinia galanga. Contact dermatitis, 54(2), 118–120. DOI: 10.1111/j.0105-1873.2006.0560b.x. Retrieved May 19, 2022