Whether you’re a newbie at cooking or a newbie at making Indonesian dishes, you may have difficulties recognizing lots of traditional spices. And those that give you the hard time would probably include some rhizomes like ginger, turmeric, galangal and aromatic ginger.

With shapes like a human’s finger, these four do have similar appearances. No one will blame you for being unable to tell them apart. But don’t worry because they still have differences. Read on to get to know them better and find out what you can make with them.



Ginger has finger-like shape with greyish brown skin. When cut, fresh ginger will show juicy yellow flesh and spread strong aroma. The aroma is partly the reason why it’s used a lot to get rid of fish smells. The other good reason to use it in many dishes is its spicy flavor. Aside from food, ginger is usually found in hot beverage and traditional medicine due to its warming effect on the stomach and throat.


You must have known turmeric as natural food coloring which is difficult to wash off once it comes in contact with your skin. The bright orange color does give beautiful color to food like nasi kuning (savory rice coming in yellow color) and Indonesian curry. Aside from making them prettier, turmeric also works as flavor enhancer. Despite its earthy and somewhat bitter flavor, turmeric will give distinctive flavor to dishes when used correctly.

Physically, turmeric has golden brown skin with soft-textured flesh that’s easy to cut and grate. Other use of turmeric includes to boost immune system, reduce pain of menstrual cramp, and to maintain your skin’s beauty.



Gallangal bears striking resemblance to ginger, but with uneven brown skin color. When cut, gallangal has whiter and less strong aroma compared to ginger. This rhizoma is usually added to food to add flavor and aroma to it. It’s also normally grated to be turned into crunchy bits of fried stuff like chicken or beef.

Kaempferia Galanga

With its brown to grey color skin, kaempferia galanga is often mistaken for ginger. But they’re actually pretty different. Also known as sand ginger or lesser galangal, kaempferia galanga is smaller in size and looks bubblier compared to regular ginger. The flesh is whiter and it has its own signature aroma. Kaempferia galanga is used a lot for vegetable stir-fry, Sundanese seblak (Indonesian raw cracker submerged in spicy soup) and traditional drink called beras kencur (made with grinded rice and kaempferia galanga).

So, are you sure you can tell the four spices apart now? Prove it by using each of them to cook different dishes for your beloved family. Unsure what to make? Get some ideas from FiberCreme_TV, and replace your coconut or dairy milk with FiberCreme that tastes better and contains higher fiber for your guts’ health.