turmeric: the magic yellow spice

Turmeric the Magic Spice

Turmeric, also known as the “Golden Spice of India” is a root that is easily identified by its golden colour. It is a warm and slightly bitter spice that belongs to the ginger family. It’s bright yellow colour, also known as “Indian saffron” is commonly used in curries and found in most Asian dishes. Today it is widely used to flavour foods, as a beauty aid, and as medicine across the world.

It is hard to believe that this ochre-coloured spice could have such powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a well-known and researched Ayurvedic spice in the world. Most of us know it as an ingredient of exotic curry dishes, but it is far more versatile than that, a lot of conscious foodies use it every day for its medicinal properties.

This all-in-one herb has also been called ‘the internal healer’ in Ayurveda. As well as a spice, the Buddhist monks used it to dye their clothes in the past and for centuries it has been used as a medicinal herb, which has been known to:

  • Rid the system and cleanse the gut
  • Strengthen the digestion and improve intestinal flora
  • Help those who are constantly facing colds
  • Regulate menstrual cycles
  • Alleviate arthritis and heartburn pain

This makes it one of the most beneficial spices to use. While the exact origin of turmeric is unknown, it is believed to be native to southern India and Indonesia where it has been used in traditional dishes as one of the five essential spices with salt, chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder.

Apart from curries, turmeric is commonly used in mustard pickles, chutneys and spice mixes. It’s important to remember that its taste is potent, so a little goes a long way. When it comes to cooking, fresh turmeric is also good to use but it is a little fiddly and difficult to buy (we personally add it to just about everything we make). Turmeric can be included in many dishes from cauliflower rice and baked butternut squash to lentil and coconut noodle-based soup.

So if you haven’t fallen in love with turmeric yet, this aromatic spice will add a ton of flavour to your recipes while providing wonderful health benefits. If you can’t decide from fresh turmeric or the ground spice, here’s a quick guide to help you.

Fresh Turmeric:

Fresh turmeric has a livelier flavour than dried, its bright yellow-orange flesh is earthy, peppery, and slightly bitter. Like ginger, you may want to scrape off the peel before using it. You can cut it into thin slices, thin strips, or cubes, it can also be grated and juiced or added to smoothies. When buying fresh turmeric avoid soft, dried, or shrivelled ones and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks, or freeze it for several months.

Dried Turmeric:

Dried turmeric can be bought whole or ground. Some of the essential oils and pungency are lost in the drying process but it still provides warmth and colour. When purchasing dried turmeric, the aroma is often a better indicator of quality than colour, which can often vary. Store dried turmeric in an airtight container for up to a year in a cool, dark place.

At Azada we love turmeric for its versatility, so if you want to create a well-balanced recipe with complementing aromas and contrasting tastes and textures, why don’t you try pairing turmeric with our very own Olive Oil & Crushed Basil, Olive Oil & Crushed Orange or Olive Oil & Crushed Rosemary.

For more information please contact Anisha Mistry, anisha@azada.es

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