From curing several ailments and diseases to the preparation of our favourite Khasi dishes, medicinal herbs hold a special place in the lives of the people in Meghalaya. For years, the locals have relied on herbal remedies, recipes and formulations to cure their ailments, passing them down from generation to generation.
In most cases, they still use herbal remedies to this day. And out of the many herbs and plants that were used in these traditional practices, there is one root that has a special place in traditional medicine. Indigenous to Meghalaya, it stands out from the rest because of its highly valuable medicinal properties – known as Ing Makhir by the khasi people and ‘Ing Traw’ by the Jaintia people. ‘Ing’ being the short form for Sying meaning ginger and ‘Makhir’ meaning small. This is because the ginger rhizomes of this variety is comparatively smaller than the other variety of ginger found in Meghalaya. And its more common name in the rest of India is the ‘Bengal Ginger Plant’ however the features of this ginger plant differ from place to place, depending on the weather, soil and . The people of Meghalaya lovingly call it the ‘Meghalaya Local’.
So, you must be asking yourself, “What exactly is Ing Makhir and how can I benefit from it?” Is it the same adrak you find everywhere else? Well, we at Zizira are here to tell you that there are quite a number of ginger benefits from this variety!
Starting of with why Ing Makhir is different from the other different varieties of ginger.
Ing Makhir Ginger, special from the other different varieties of ginger – What is so special?
Ginger plant Ing Makhir (Botanical name: Zingiber Rubens) is a highly valued variety of ginger plant sold in the local markets for its strong medicinal properties as compared to the common ginger root. Gingerol, a characteristic compound of ginger is significantly present in Ing Makhir has been known to exhibit a variety of biological activities including anticancer, anti-inflammation, and anti-oxidation.
Moreover, Ing Makhir contains Zingibrene; an essential oil or ginger extract which contributes to the strong distinct smell of the root. Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts which are used for several applications in medicine and aromatherapy. Other essential oils that are present in Ing Makhir are monoterpenes, camphene, phellandrene and cineole.
Okay, enough of the scientific jargon. Now, let us look at some of the traditional uses of Ing Makhir which have survived the test of time and are still used even today.
Uses of Ginger: The way the Ing Makhir is used traditionally.
Ing Makhir Ginger from Meghalaya There is an age-old tradition of the Khasis in administering a herbal remedy to treat a disease or ailment found in newborns or infants known as U Niangsohpet (‘Niang’ means germs and ‘sohpet’ means the navel in Khasi dialect). Niangsohpet is a form of infantile diarrhoea or irregular bowels accompanied by the yellowness of the skin during infanthood, also known as neonatal jaundice.
The medicine is usually applied to the stomach when the baby is only two weeks old. This traditional formulation of the medicine called Ka Dawai Niangsohpet includes a mix of various plants and herbs found in Meghalaya. One of the crucial ingredients in this herbal remedy includes the use of the Ing Makhir and it has been proven to cure infants and new-borns of infantile diarrhoea and neonatal jaundice.
Ing Makhir has been used by traditional herbal practitioners to treat body aches, arthritis, rheumatism, joint pains etc
Ever wondered why those traditional herbal oils you get from traditional healers have such a strong and distinct smell as compared to the regular massage oils you get in the market? Yes, you guessed it. Ing Makhir is known for its property of relieving body aches, joint pains and similar ailments. It has long been used along with other herbs as a herbal remedy to treat the aforesaid ailments and is the reason why traditional herbal oils have that distinct characteristic smell.
Ing Makhir has been used as an insect and snake repellent
Besides the health benefits of ginger, this aromatic ginger is used for so much more.
Take it from a person who has used Ing Makhir to ward off ants from my Mother’s sugar containers and bugs and cockroaches from my clothes and bags. A strong repellent for insects and pests, Ing Makhir’s smell partially comes from the essential oil Zingibrene and placing a few Ing Makhir slices around will surely ward off pests and insects. Additionally, the root has also been known to repel snakes and has been traditionally used to keep snakes and other creepy crawlies from entering the house. Try sprinkling some ginger powder in your cupboards the next time you see a cockroach.
Ing Makhir is great for curing sore throat, cough and cold.
This health benefit of ginger is an easy gain for us and is the reason why I have so much love for this spice. Along with a combination of other herbs, Ing Makhir root is known to get rid of that sore throat, cough or cold that has been bothering you all week. While administering steam inhalation therapy, crushed rhizome of the Ing Makhir is added to the water to help effectively cure the aforesaid ailments.
Zizira also formulated an infusion of honey and ginger, a perfect remedy for a cough. Here is Ginger infused honey if you would like to have a back up for whenever you need this remedy.
Makhir Ginger as a Spice
Though Ing Makhir is utilized and valued for its use in medicine, foodies will be glad to know that the root is also used to make dishes.
Use this ginger in place of your existing ginger, the difference can be easily felt.
Ing Makhir is used in one of Meghalaya’s most famous dish – Tungrymbai! What is tungrymbai you may ask? It is a popular fermented soybean chutney which is indigenous to the Khasi and Jaintia tribe of Meghalaya and is deep-rooted in the food culture of the people. While preparing tungrymbai, Ing Makhir is added to give additional flavour and aroma to the dish. Here is a tungrymbai recipe you can try.
Ginger Plant Root with Great Potential
Ginger farm in Meghalaya The diverse uses of this Ing Makhir makes the root useful and beneficial in so many ways. And though, the people of Meghalaya have been using this root in traditional medicines for the past years, there may be other applications which are yet to be discovered. Read how Zizira went on a hunt for it - The Road to Discovery - Ing Makhir a Potent Medicinal Ginger From Meghalaya.
It is also limited as we have mentioned Ing Makhir is a special type of ginger which is not mass produced in Meghalaya.
Farmers grow this ginger for medical purposes and for some special dishes in the region mostly.
Which is why, in my opinion, I think this may just be the best ginger in the world, you can try it for yourself. I will leave the link here for you.
This will help researchers discover new health and herbal remedies and help local farmers earn a better living by increasing its demand in the market. If you know of any traditional uses or applications of Ing Makhir please let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!