Vegan Grandma

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ginger/Garlic Chickpeas and Iome interesting Things About Ginger
It's been snowing all day. I love snow. There is a row of white pine trees in the yard that look beautiful covered with snow. my two cats are enjoying looking out of the window watching the snow fall. They seem to have settled into their new home, and they seem happy here.

The snow made me hungry for something hot and spicy. I made the following recipe for lunch, and really enjoyed it.

This recipe comes from The Essential Vegetarian Cook Book, by Diana Shaw, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, page 360. She calls it "My Favorite Chickpeas". It’s one of my favorites, too.

My Favorite Chickpeas
Serves 4

2 teaspoons canola oil

4 garlic cloves, grated

3 tablespoons grated, peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup fresh or canned tomato puree

2 cups cooked chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, turn down the heat to low and add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Saute, stirring constantly, until everything is well combined and the mixture has a uniform color, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the tomato puree, turn the heat up to medium, and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the chickpeas and bring to a simmer again. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer until the mixture is thick, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Let the chickpeas sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Some Interesting Things About Ginger

Though commonly referred to as a root, ginger is actually a tropical rhizome (botanical name Zingiber officinale), in the same family as turmeric and cardamom. It is native to Southern Asia and has long been a staple in Asian cuisines.

Ginger is popular in the Caribbean Islands, where it grows wild. Jamaican ginger is prized for its strong flavor. Jamaica provides most of the world's supply, followed by India, Africa and China.
Ginger can be grown in a flowerpot at home, but since it is a tropical plant, it must be brought indoors when the weather turns cool.

The Chinese were using ginger as long ago as the 6th century BC. Ginger was used by the ancient Romans, but almost disappeared in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. Marco Polo's brought ginger back from the Far East, and it again became popular in Europe, becoming a much-coveted expensive spice.

It is thought that Queen Elizabeth I of England invented the Christmas treat, the gingerbread man.

Spanish settlers brought ginger to the New world in the 1500s.


Recent studies suggest that ginger can help reduce the inflamation of arthritis and lupus.

Ginger tea may relieve the chills and congestion of a cold. To make ginger tea, simmer one or two slices of fresh ginger root in water for 10 minutes. Add a pinch of cinnamon.

Sipping flat ginger ale or sucking candied ginger may help to relieve nausea due to motion sickness or morning sickness. Ginger is available in capsule form for this purpose.

Ginger is said to stimulate gastric juices

Ginger is very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Selenium, and a very good source of Manganese.

Massive doses of ginger can depress the nervous system and cause heart irregularities.

Some people are allergic to ginger. This may take the form of flatulence, or it may take the form of a tightening in the throat necessitating uncontrollable burping to relieve the pressure.

Buying Ginger

Fresh ginger can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores. Look for ginger with a fresh, spicy fragrance. Fresh ginger should be firm and feel heavy. Choose the hardest, smoothest pieces you can find. Ginger becomes more wrinkled as it ages. Do not buy pieces that have mold. If the ginger is fresh, it will break with a clean snap.

Long length is a sign of maturity. Mature rhizomes will be hotter and more fibrous.

Forms of Ginger

Fresh Ginger

Fresh ginger is available in two forms: young and mature. Young roots, also called green or spring ginger, has a pale, thin skin that requires no peeling, is very tender and has a milder flavor. It can be grated, chopped, or julienned for use.

Mature ginger root has a tough skin that must be peeled away to get to the fibrous flesh and is usually grated, chopped or ground for use. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice in Chinese cuisine.

Dried Ginger

Dried ginger is available whole or in slices. It is usually soaked in liquid before using.

Pickled Ginger

Called gari or beni shoga in Japan, this form is pickled in sweet vinegar and is usually colored bright red or pink. It ca be added to relishes and condiments. It is a familiar accompaniment to sushi and is also eaten to refresh the breath. It is used raw on tofu or noodles.

Pickled ginger is available at Asian markets. It should be kept refrigerated in its container.

Preserved Ginger

Preserved ginger has been preserved in a sugar-salt mixture. It is usually used as a confection or added to desserts, and good with melons. preserved ginger is available at Asian markets.

Crystallized Ginger

Also known as candied ginger, crystallized ginger has been cooked in a sugar syrup until tender and then coated with granulated sugar. It is commonly used in desserts and can easily be made at home.

Ground Ginger

Also referred to as powdered ginger, ground ginger is available in standard supermarkets, and is used primarily in sweets and curry mixes. Do not substitute ground for fresh ginger in recipes, the flavors are different.

Ginger-garlic paste

Ginger-garlic paste is available in Asian markets.

Storing Ginger

Ginger should be stored in a cool dry place.

You can bury the unpeeled ginger in dry, sandy soil. Cover with well-pierced foil to provide ventilation. Store in a cool, dark place. Break off pieces, and re-bury the ginger . The ginger will continue to grow in the sand.

Fresh, unpeeled root should be wrapped in paper towels, placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated up to three weeks.

Peeled ginger root may be stored in Madeira, vodka, or Sherry wine in a glass container with a tight lid in the refrigerator for up to two months. Since the ginger will take on the flavor of the wine, do not, use ginger which has been stored in wine in dishes where a wine flavor is not desirable. You can use the ginger-flavored wine in stir-fry sauces or marinades (or you can drink it). Replace the wine in the jar as you use it.

To freeze ginger, place whole, unpeeled knobs of ginger in a zipper-lock freezer bag and place in the freezer. Frozen ginger will keep for 3 months. Slice or break off what you need, and return the rest to the freezer. Freezing ruptures the cells, and makes the ginger soft, but the flavor will not change. Do not freeze peeled or chopped ginger.

Dried ginger should be kept in a cool, dark space in an airtight container.

Pickled and preserved ginger should be kept in their original containers in the refrigerator.

Store crystallized ginger in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to three months.

Using Ginger

Ginger is used extensively as a spice in cuisines throughout the world.

The fresh ginger root (or rhizome) is relatively mild. The flavor of the candied root is more concentrated. Powdered ginger is the hottest.

To slice ginger, Cut a thin slice crosswise from a knob of ginger. If peeled slices are called for, peel a section of the knob before slicing.

To sliver or dice ginger, cut the ginger into very thin slices. Stack the slices and cut into very fine strips for the slivers. To dice, cut the slivers crosswise into a fine dice.

To mince large amounts of ginger quickly, cut the ginger root into ½ inch chunks, place the chunks into a mini food chopper and mince in 2 to 3 minute pulses until it reaches the desired fineness.

To peel ginger, scrape the skin with the side of a spoon. Using a vegetable peeler often removes some of the flesh as well as the skin, and the flesh just below the skin is often the best tasting. There is no need to peel ginger that will be used in marinades or teas, or that is to be grated.

To grate ginger, grate on the finest part of the grater until the ginger turns to pulp. While grating, keep the piece to be grated attached to the larger piece. It’s easier to hold that way. Grate what you need, and return it to the refrigerator or freezer.

Oriental markets sell porcelain graters made for ginger. They have raised bumps instead of holes. Cut ginger across the fibers and rub the cut edge against the grater. If you cut ginger lengthwise and grate the long side, you will have stringy chunks.

To make ginger less fiery, soak grated ginger root in cold water for 10 minutes, squeeze dry and use.

To get juice from ginger, thaw a piece of frozen ginger root. It will be soft enough to squeeze with your fingers, or you can use a garlic press. You can also peel fresh ginger, cut it into chunks, shred it on a grater or puree it in a food processor. Then wrap the pureed ginger in cheese cloth, and squeeze out the juice.

Do not use ground ginger to replace fresh ginger. They have different flavors. Ground ginger works well in ginger bread, pumpkin pie, and other baked goods, and in curries with other Indian spices.

To use Crystalized or candied ginger, chop it and add generously to cookie dough, muffins, gingerbread (in addition to the ginger called for in the recipe), or other baked goods , or add candied ginger to braised or roasted root vegetables. If your recipe calls for sugar and candied ginger, the candied ginger can be chopped in a mini food processor with a bit of granulated sugar to prevent sticking. You can also chop candied ginger with a knife which has been sprayed with cooking spray or dipped in flour.

Cooking ginger makes the taste more subtle and less fiery. Added at the beginning of cooking a dish, ginger will give subtler flavor to the dish. Added near the end of cooking, ginger will deliver a more pungent taste.

For ginger lemonade, combine freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, sweetener, and water. Grated ginger is also good in fruit juices or iced tea.

Sprinkle grated ginger, sesame seeds and nori strips on top of rice.

Combine ginger, tamari, olive oil and garlic to make a salad dressing.

Add ginger and orange juice to pureed sweet potatoes.

Add grated ginger to baked apples.

Add freshly minced ginger to sauteed vegetables.

Ginger is used to flavor ginger ale, a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage, as well as the spicier beverage, ginger beer.

A ginger-flavored liqueur called Canton is produced in the Guangdong province of China.

Green ginger wine is a ginger flavoured wine produced in the United Kingdom by Crabbie's and Stone's and traditionally sold in a green glass bottle.

Ginger is also used as a spice added to hot coffee and tea.

In Myanmar, ginger is used in a salad dish called gyin-tho, which consists of shredded ginger preserved in oil, and a variety of nuts and seeds.

In traditional Korean kimchi, ginger is minced finely and added into the ingredients of the spicy paste just before the fermenting process. (Vegans, beware! Kimchi often contains anchovies.)

In south India, ginger is used in a candy called Inji-murappa ("ginger candy" from Tamil).

In South East Asia, the flower of a type of ginger is used in cooking. This unopened flower is known in the Malay language as Bunga Kantan, and is used in salads and also as garnish for sour-savory soups, like Assam Laksa.


1-inch piece is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon ground, 1 tablespoon grated or crystalized.


Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale

Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal, an A to Z Guide to Safe and Healthy Eating, Published by the readers digest Association, Inc., 1997

The Kitchen Companion, by Polly Clingerman, published by the American Cooking Guild, Gaithersburg, Maryland


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