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Ginger Juice – Traditional West African Recipe

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ginger juice

Here is how to prepare a ginger juice in the pure West African tradition where it is also called gnamankoudji, gnamacoudji, nyamakuji or gnamakoudji, meaning “chili water”, which is also found in East Africa under the name of tangawizi.

What is ginger juice?

Ginger juice is a juice consumed in several West African countries, including Nigeria, Benin, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Senegal.

The word has a Dyula origin, the vernacular language of West African traders.

This juice is prepared from the rhizomes of ginger. Lemon is traditionally added. The gnamankoudji recipe can be mixed with other ingredients. Some add lime for an extra touch of acidity. Others prefer to flavor their juice with a few mint leaves, vanilla sugar, pineapple juice or Guinea sorrel (bissap).

The tradition is to taste the ginger juice very fresh.

Several similar drinks are prepared in other countries of sub-Saharan Africa: tangawisi in Central Africa or tangawizi in East Africa), and emuduro or emudro in Ghana.

How to peel fresh ginger

Ginger is a healthy root with a number of benefits. Eating it fresh is the best thing to do, even if one can get discouraged when it comes to peeling it.

It’s gnarly and lumpy, so here are some tips on how to clean that root easily and avoid accidents.

The peeler and the classic knife are two utensils that could lend themselves to this procedure. But improper use of these two utensils can lead to a real mess of the ginger because much of the pulp is wasted with the skin.

To properly clean fresh ginger, it is therefore important to follow these tips:

  • First separate the different parts of the rhizome to make cleaning easier. Wash the ginger well with a vegetable brush, so as to remove any impurities and residual dirt, adding, in case, a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in cold water. Dry the ginger perfectly.
  • Scraping ginger with a teaspoon is one of the most common ways. The skin is very thin and comes off very easily by scratching. Scrape the ginger with the inside of the spoon, holding it firmly, and going with the tip of the spoon into the recesses of the root. The skin will come off very easily by gently scratching.
  • Once peeled, the ginger can be cut into larger or smaller cubes, thin slices, julienned or grated.

How to store ginger

It is recommended to never throw away the ginger peels and to keep them in the refrigerator or even in the freezer in order to prepare infusions, broths, or even a natural detergent.

Fresh ginger keeps well in the refrigerator drawer, keeping the root with the skin on in a paper bag or wrapped in parchment paper for about three weeks.

Once peeled, one can also choose to freeze the ginger clean and cut into small pieces or grated, or even leave it for up to ten days in the refrigerator.

tangawizi

The origins and history of ginger

Ginger root, native to Asia, has been consumed for over three thousand years. It is a plant that can measure up to 3 feet (1 meter) in height and has very distinctive light yellow flowers. The leaves, dark green, arise from the hard, thick, underground stem known as the rhizome, the part most used for consumption.

The story goes that ginger was one of the first spices to reach the Mediterranean region, probably introduced by the Phoenicians. In the 1st century BC, Rome made it an almost obligatory use of to decorate sauces of meats and poultry.

Ginger was cultivated in India and China 5,000 years ago. It was introduced to the West over two thousand years ago by spice merchants, widely used in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, and thanks to the Arabs, it has been widely planted throughout Africa.

In the Middle Ages, ginger was so valuable and economically profitable that it enriched those who cultivated it and subsequently its cultivation spread to the New World, especially Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean, thanks to the Spanish and English colonizers.

In the Qur’an, ginger is described as a plant blessed by God, beneficial for spiritual development, and Confucius, the famous Chinese philosopher, in 500 BC, as his writings attest, never finished a meal without chewing a piece of its root. The first written record of ginger comes from the Analects of Confucius, written in China during the Warring States period (475-221 BC).

Today, ginger is grown in areas with a tropical climate, mainly India and China. These two countries alone account for half of the world production of ginger.

However, crops are also present in Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Philippines, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

What are the benefits of ginger?

Ginger, from Sanskrit singabera, has great historical, medicinal, aphrodisiac and spiritual value. Ginger can be found in history, in various legends and in many ancient and modern fairy tales.

Used since Antiquity to a time when the culture was indeed enriched with legends, curiosities and “magical” properties to discover.

Ginger is also linked to a series of beliefs, and in ancient times various magical properties were attributed to it. In ancient times, ginger was used as a food preservative. The root had been noted precisely for one aspect that was particularly important at the time: added to food, it prevented, or rather slowed down, its deterioration. This was one of the most important reasons why ginger was considered magical.

It is particularly coveted in herbal medicine because of the numerous studies which have confirmed its therapeutic potential. It is also recognized that the benefits of ginger go well beyond the aphrodisiac virtues which are often attributed to it.

Ginger is a rhizome with a spicy and fresh taste, from the same family as turmeric and cardamom, which contains 477 chemical constituents, including ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, lecithin, curcumin, selenium, tryptophan, vitamins groups A, B, C and K, antioxidants and gingerol, which has a strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action.

Ginger contains water, carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, various minerals including manganese, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc, and Essential oil. This spice has many healing properties.

For centuries, ginger has been used in Asia as a dietary supplement because it is rich in nutrients.

Excellent as a coffee substitute, this spicy ginger juice recipe offers an extraordinary energizing, thirst-quenching and regenerating high, perfect for boosting energy during the day and relieving symptoms of fatigue and exhaustion.

Ginger is therefore very useful both for preventing seasonal ailments and for combating certain ailments:

  • natural anti-inflammatory, able to reduce various painful manifestations. Several studies attribute anti-inflammatory activity to the ginger rhizome. Its compounds appear to be particularly effective in relieving muscle and joint pain of inflammatory origin.
  • In addition to toning the body, ginger can also stimulate the immune system. Studies show that it is particularly effective in fighting certain infections, especially those of viral origin such as the seasonal flu.
  • natural antibiotic, both to prevent and treat seasonal conditions such as colds and flu.
  • digestive, since the entire digestive system can benefit from the properties of ginger, which is rich in substances that protect the gastric mucous membranes. In addition, the carminative action helps eliminate intestinal swelling.
  • antiemetic, able to calm or relieve nausea and vomiting. Likewise, it is useful in alleviating the effects of motion sickness.
  • helps regulate blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, in addition to improving blood circulation by being able to thin the blood.
  • In addition, this root has the power to lower the levels of glucose and cholesterol in the blood, thus improving the general condition of the body.

Although ginger is useful against morning sickness and vomiting, it is not recommended during pregnancy because it can stimulate uterine contractions, especially during the first trimester.

Does ginger help lose weight?

The answer is yes because it is low in calories and it also helps reduce appetite and burn fat. Ginger helps dissolve fat and has a thermogenic effect, meaning it produces heat and burns calories.

Ginger is often used to prepare a ginger foot bath which stimulates the liver meridian, reducing abdominal stagnation and improving circulation in the legs, thus helping to lose weight.

Its thermogenic effect increases body temperature, which is reflected in the metabolism and potentiates the burning of calories. Plus, it’s a diuretic because it reduces water retention in the urine, which softens the swollen appearance.

Is ginger aphrodisiac?

Ginger has aphrodisiac properties. In fact, it works primarily as a natural tonic. It can thus have benefits on sexual vigor and be effective in combating states of fatigue.

Its aphrodisiac properties are also due, among other things, to the magnesium contained in its rhizome.

Love filters made from ginger mixed with Phallus impudicus were invented by the Bacchantes. The phallus impudicus is a species of fungus in the phallaceae family, which resembles an erect penis when it grows, hence its name.

The Kâmasutra, in its chapter 7, encourages the use of ginger in sexual practices.

In the West, it owes its popularity to Madame la Comtesse du Barry, a commoner, courtesan, with a restless youth and the last official mistress of the King of France Louis XV.

gnamakoudji

ginger juice

Ginger Juice (Gnamakoudji)

Ginger juice is a traditional juice from West Africa called gnamankoudji, and also known as tangawizi in East Africa.

Course: Beverage

Cuisine: African, Nigérian, Vegan, Vegetarian

Servings: 5 people

Author: Vera Abitbol

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 8 oz. ginger rhizomes
  • cup sugar
  • 1 large lemon (organic), thinly sliced with the peel on

Instructions

  1. Immerse the rhizomes for a few minutes in cold water.

  2. Drain and dry them well.

  3. Peel them with a teaspoon.

  4. First option (traditional): Using a mortar and pestle, pound the rhizomes until obtaining a paste.

  5. Second option: Blend the ginger with ½ cup (100 ml) of lukewarm water.

  6. Then, bring the 4 cups (liter) of water to a boil and pour it into a large glass container. Add the ginger paste and the lemon cut into slices then let infuse for 1 hour at room temperature.

  7. Filter the infused mixture through cheesecloth to remove the lemon slices and residues that would not be pleasant to taste.

  8. Add the sugar and mix well.

  9. Pour the ginger juice into a glass bottle or decanter, and set it aside in the refrigerator for several hours.

  10. Mix well before serving the drink very cold.

Vera Abitbol

Vera is the “expert” of the 196 flavors’ duo. With over 30 years of experience in the kitchen, she is now sharing her skills as a private chef and cooking instructor.

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