Indonesia Eats

Fingerroot

Fingerroot (Temu Kunci – Kra Chai)

FingerrootHave you ever seen this herb before? It does look like fingers growing out of a center piece and the reason why it is called Fingerroot in English. This herb is known as Temu Kunci in Indonesian and I have tasted ever since I can remember.

Fingerroot is popular as a medicinal and culinary herb in China and Southeast Asia. It has a strong and dominating flavour. Many people would think to classify this as a medical due that reason. The fingers and the central, globular part of the rhizome have different odour.

Temu Kunci is mostly used in Javanese cuisine, but I haven’t found any recipes from other regions of Indonesia using this herb. I surely will share with you two Javanese dishes that I ate for lunch while I was still young and lived in my parents’ house. If you wonder what those foods are, please do come back for my two next postings.

Meanwhile, you can look through other common names of this plant.
Botanical name: Boesenbergia rotunda (L.)
English: Chinese ginger, Chinese key, Lesser ginger
German: Chinesischer Ingwer, Fingerwurz
Indonesian: Temu kunci
Thai: Ka-aen, Wan-phraathit, Khingsai khingkaeng, Ka chai, Kra chai
Vietnamese: Bồng nga truật, Cú ngái

Source: Wikipedia and Gernot Katzer’s Spices Pages

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33 thoughts on “Fingerroot (Temu Kunci – Kra Chai)”

  1. The Cilantropist

    Wow, these do look disturbingly similar to a human hand… I cant wait to see what you make with them!!

  2. Indonesia-Eats

    Lisa, the flavour is totally different with ginseng. This herb is still family of Zingiber aceae (ginger family).@The Cilantropist: I know it's really disturbing. Stt I'm trying to grow them now.

  3. The Cilantropist

    Wow, these do look disturbingly similar to a human hand… I cant wait to see what you make with them!!

  4. Indonesia-Eats

    Lisa, the flavour is totally different with ginseng. This herb is still family of Zingiber aceae (ginger family).

    @The Cilantropist: I know it's really disturbing. Stt I'm trying to grow them now.

  5. Christine@Christine&

    No, haven't seen any Fingerroot around my area. In fact, we hardly find any Indonesian restaurants here too. Too bad. 🙁

  6. Christine@Christine's Recipes

    No, haven't seen any Fingerroot around my area. In fact, we hardly find any Indonesian restaurants here too.
    Too bad. 🙁

  7. I first saw this temu kunci on your blog. Later I saw it being used in Otak Otak in a Thai recipe. It's called Chinese Key and I have never tasted it before. I will check with the vendor in our market (Malaysia) to find out if it's available. I wonder how it tastes like. Like cekur?

  8. I first saw this temu kunci on your blog. Later I saw it being used in Otak Otak in a Thai recipe. It's called Chinese Key and I have never tasted it before. I will check with the vendor in our market (Malaysia) to find out if it's available. I wonder how it tastes like. Like cekur?

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  12. Im from java. We use this to make everyday spinach soup (u can easily find in small street resto we call warung ) which we call “jangan kunci” its very tasty and easy to eat. Didnt know its this interesting for other country. Its very easy to make this soup too.

    1. Indonesia Eats

      The spinach that is known as sayur bayam in Indonesia is a different spinach with the western countries. The spinach in Indonesia is known as amaranth in western world.

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