Ingredient of the Month 26 : Turmeric

Turmeric powder and dried turmeric root
We all know bright yellow turmeric, or haldi, as a essential spice in curry powders- and also as a dye that's nearly impossible to remove from items of clothing once they are splashed! But there's more to turmeric than that: as well as lending colour and flavour to sweet and savoury dishes, turmeric has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to cure fevers and infections and has, in recent years, been feted in the West as a disease preventative and wonder cure for various ailments. Turmeric is a plant from the ginger family and grows in tropical South and South East Asia. It is native to India. It is the root that is used, either fresh or dried and powdered.

Culinary uses: Turmeric is, of course, one of the ingredients in many types of curry powder, or else is added with other spices when preparing vegetables etc. Cubes of Paneer (Indian curd cheese) are often soaked in turmeric, salt and water after frying and before adding to dishes such as matar paneer (cheese and peas in a delicately spiced tomato gravy). Turmeric is also a great cheaper version of saffron for colouring rice and sweets- although the flavour is not the same. It has even found it way into lots of processed products as a food dye- where it is known as E100.
Traditional Ayurvedic Medicinal uses: My first experience of turmeric as a medicine was when my daughter was a small baby and I was suffering from mastitis; a friend gave me a jar of turmeric and honey mixed together in equal parts and although the honey could not disguise the horrible bitter taste, I managed to take some and it certainly did help to quash the infection. Next, I was cooking in a temporary temple kitchen at a festival and a colleague cut his finger. There were no blue plasters to hand (health and safety fail :/...) but he just dabbed on some turmeric powder and it stopped the bleeding, while, I was told, also acting as an antiseptic. I have since done the same myself for minor cuts at home. I have another friend who swears by turmeric in warm milk  for fevers. The Ayurveda also recommends fresh turmeric juice for treating skin diseases, digestive and liver problems and chest infections.
Health Benefits: Turmeric certainly seems to have important antinflammatory properties. It is now possible to buy turmeric as a supplement, as although there have been very few clinical studies, it is reputed to cure or prevent cancers and rheumatoid arthritis. Cancer research has suggested that, combined with another drug, turmeric can kill cancerous cells. Click on the following link to see how turmeric can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis too: 

Do you have any good recipes including turmeric that you'd like to share? If so, just use the linky below to join in our Terrific Turmeric event, which will run throughout November 2013. Rules for the event are simple:
  1. Please include a link in your post to this page-archived posts are welcome as long as they are edited to include this link.
  2. You can submit as many recipes as you like.
  3. Please no eggs, meat, fish or alcohol. Vegan or veganise-able recipes preferred
...And happy World Vegan Day! This month is also Vegan Month, so if you need a little help to kickstart your new way of living, now would be a good time- there's plenty of resources online. Check out this post at our other blog for links to some interesting vegan sites and blogs .


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