Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and it looks remarkably similar to fresh root ginger in it's natural state. The root is boiled, dried and ground to make a bright yellowy, orange powder that is used extensively in Indian cooking and as a colourant.
Over the past few years Turmeric has become increasingly popular in the Western world due to various claims of it's health benefits. From coffee latte's and tea to food suppliments turmeric can now be found i many different forms.
Using Turmeric (Haldi) in Indian Cooking
In Indian culture, turmeric or haldi has always been regarded as a super spice due to it's many positive health benefits. It's thought that it was introduced into cooking due to it's anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Even today most indian fish marinades begin with a light coating of turmeric to rid the fish of any bacteria. Children and adults alike are often given turmeric milk as a drink to protect the stomach and it's also commonly made into a paste to treat burns and wounds like an antiseptic.
Research has shown that the active ingredient in tumeric, which also gives it it's vibrant colour, is called curcumin. it is a natural decongestant and is thought to aid in the treatment of certain allergies and depression and is also currently being investigated for benefits in treating Alzheimer's disease.
There are lots of interesting articles out there focussing on the benefits of turmeric so it's worth reading.
Turmeric is bitter to taste and the very intense bright colour mean that it should only be used sparingly. It can stain garmets, cooking utensils and leave a woody aroma and chalky senstaion to dishes if over used.
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