Spices and various plants used in Thai cooking are herbs, which have medicinal properties that can heal illness. The benefits of herbs used in Thai food may not always be obviously known, so the following are examples of herbs used in Thai cooking
Finger Root [kra-chai] : The fresh plump roots have strong aroma and are juicy. Peel away the thin brown skin and wash thoroughly to reduce their strong flavour before cooking. The benefit of Finger Root is to dispel gas and can help with digestion and colic. Rhizome also contains many vitamins such as vitamin A, B12 and calcium
Dried Chilies [prik-haeng] : Both spur and hot chilies are used. Dried hot chilies are normally roasted and ground, and used as the seasoning. While dried spur chilies are used mostly in curry paste. The benefit of chilies is to boost the appetite, and the spur chili also acts as a tonic for the system. It dispels gas, phlegm, urine and can also be used to treat indigestion.
Lemongrass [ta-krai] : Pick the ones with plump base and light purple in color. Peel away the outer bulb until the pinker insides appears. The benefit of lemongrass is to help in digestion and the functioning of urinary passing. It induces sweat and cures discharges and vomiting. In addition to lowering blood pressure and dispelling gas, it is also used to treat fever, stomach pain, as well as gallstones and other disease of the urinary tract.
Galangal [khaa] : A member of the ginger family, it has pungency and tang, quite unlike that of the common ginger. Buy only young galangal with plump roots and pinkish white skin. The benefit of galangal is to dispel intestinal gas and ease dysentery. Besides relieving the distensions of the abdomen, galangal also helps dispel phlegm.
Shallots [hom-daeng] : The ezesty small red onion. The ones with glossy purplish red skin give strong smell, while those with yellowish orange skin are sweeter in taste. The benefit of shallot is to dispel gas, helps ease urinary passing, regulates menstrual cycles and is an effective treatment for the common cold.
Onions [hom-yai] : Good quality onions are heavy with dry and smooth skin. Keep them in a ventilated area or in a basket for longer use. Do not refrigerate.