Turmeric is the starting ingredient for a good curry powder, the root (which is also called ‘fingers’) is cooked, dried, ground and turned into a magnificent golden powder. It is so vibrant it is sometimes called ‘Indian saffron’, although the similarity to saffron stops with the colour.
Saffron may get more attention, being the diva of the spice world, but turmeric is a fantastic spice with a dazzling amount of medicinal benefits, a cultural importance unrivalled by any other spice and a unique taste. This spice is a must for any self-respecting spice rack!
Turmeric’s Latin name is Curcuma longa, it grows to about a meter tall, has yellowy white flowers and broad leaves. The root looks the same as a ginger root, and is ringed with the bases of its old leaves… which I thought was quite interesting.
The first uses of turmeric that we know of, was about 4000 years ago. It was used as a culinary spice but also became popular in religious ceremonies. It spread throughout China, East Africa, West Africa and eventually landing on the shores of Jamaica. India remains the largest producer of it, in fact it produces almost all of the world turmeric and consumes about 80% of it. Indian turmeric is considered the best in the world.
Although it is widely used as a spice, it is also used as a colouring agent. Cheese, butter, pickles, ice cream, cakes, yoghurt, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn even cosmetics and textiles take advantage of the brilliant yellow colour it gives off.
The most important feature of turmeric, however, is its medicinal properties. I could easily fill this entire blog listing the complaints it either does cure, is said to cure or could cure in the future. It will be easier to just say it is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, and anticancer agent. You can use your imagination to come up with what it can fix based on that, and you would probably be right, it seems there’s very little it won’t at least have a go at making right!
If this plant were a person it’d be Bob the builder “can we fix it?” Yes…. It probably could.
If you want a quick way to include turmeric in your cooking, make an easy version of jewelled rice. Fry up half an onion and a minced clove of garlic. Add a cup of rice and a tablespoon of turmeric and stir until it is all coated that gorgeous golden colour! Then add water or broth and your favourite herbs and simmer for the recommended time. You’ll have a bowl of rice as beautiful as it is tasty! Thanks turmeric, for bringing a ray of sunshine to our cooking!
If you want to taste turmeric cooked to perfection in a curry, then come visit us today! Or book a table for a visit, here at Paddy’s we’re always happy to see you!