A deciduous plant of the ginger family, “Krachai”(Kaempferia ,or lesser galangal) is known in every thai kitchen ,as its rhizome is commonly used as an ingredient in fish curries.
Locally it is known under different names. In the north ,it is called “ka-anne” , “ra-anne” or “hua la anne” in the northeast,particularly in Maha Sarakham province, it is known as “khing daeng” or “khing sai”, while Bangkokians simply call it “wan-phra-athit”.
There are three types of krachai:yellow krachai, black krachai , and red krachai. However ,yellow krachai , which looks like a bunch of long , thin yellowish-brown fingers , proves to be more popular in thai cooking. It is an indispensable ingredient in making “namya” , the fish curry eaten with fresh rice noodles in the popular thai dish called “kanom jeen-namya”.
In addition to improving the flavor of food ,krachai is also known for its medicinal properties.
Some countries in Asia believe that krachai helps enhance appetite and improve digestion. The rhizome is crushed and wrapped in a piece of white cloth, which is soaked in honey. A teacup of the liquid is then drunk before dinner or before bedtime.
Another way is to extract the juice by pounding a handful of krachai , then squeezing the pulp to obtain the juice ,which is then mixed with an equal amount of honey. A teacup of the extract taken every day before dinner makes a refreshing and healthful drink.
Another way of preparing a drink is to peel and slice a mature rhizome , then dry it in the sun before it is crushed into powder. A teaspoon of the krachai powder dissolved in boiling water , like coffee , helps relieve joint pains if drunk regularly in the morning and evening.
It is believed that black krachai is more effective than the other types as it helps ease aching and constipation , and improves health.
Krachai can also rid of ringworms and help relieve muscular pains , chest pains , diarrhea and abdominal pains , gastric trouble , ulcers in the mouth and pustules.