“Sying Makhir” or “Ing Makhir” as it is locally known by the people of Meghalaya is an indigenous ginger variety native to the hilly terrains of Meghalaya. It is scientifically known as Zingiber rubens. This ginger is known to be the best ginger variety in India.
The name Ing Makhir comes from the Khasi words “Sying” which means ‘ginger’ and “Makhir” which means ‘small’. The Pnar people from the Jaintia Hills call it “Ing Traw” which, again, translates to small ginger.
And it’s true actually. Ing Makhir ginger is small, sleek, and not big and bulky at all compared to regular ginger varieties. This particular feature makes it stand out from ordinary ginger. This particular ginger has very thin skin and is known to be very fibrous in nature making it perfect for powdering.
Ing Makhir ginger can be found growing in most parts of Meghalaya, but it is abundantly found in villages along the Assam-Meghalaya border, villages such as Khatkasla, and Sahsniang, Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya.
As mentioned above, this potent ginger variety is native to Meghalaya, so it is not readily found in other parts of India. However, the variety of ginger known as Bengal ginger does bear some similarities to Meghalaya’s Ing Makhir ginger although much research is yet to be done.
A Brief History of Ing Makhir Ginger
Ing Makhir is a variety of ginger native to Meghalaya that is highly valued for its strong medicinal properties as compared to the common ginger root. Ing Makhir contains zingiberene, an essential oil that contributes its strong distinct flavour.
An age-old tradition of the Khasis used a herbal formulation comprising of Ing Makhir ginger and other herbs to treat an ailment found in newborns or infants known as “Niangsohpet” (‘Niang’ means germs and ‘sohpet’ means navel in the Khasi dialect).
This ancient folk remedy contains a mixture of various herbs which also include Ing Makhir as an effective ingredient.
Though Ing Makhir is utilized and valued for its uses in medicine, the rhizome is also used to make one of Meghalaya’s most famous ethnic side dishes- Tungrymbai which is a popular fermented soybean chutney.