Ground turmeric root has been used in Indian and Chinese cooking (and traditional medicine) for centuries. A staple in all Indian cooking, its primary compound is curcumin, which imparts that rich yellow hue to dishes. While it used as a colouring agent in most dishes, in parts of north India, especially Rajasthan, it is also the main ingredient in some dishes. Across all Niraamaya Retreats, turmeric is an essential ingredient that finds wide application.
Across the globe, store shelves are heaving with turmeric tea and there is also a turmeric cordial, which, by all reviews, is delicious with ginger beer or vodka and lime. Part of the ancient pantheon of superfoods, turmeric plays a stellar role in Indian and Chinese culinary traditions and traditional medicine. As humans look to improve their physical and mental well-being, many roads are leading to turmeric.
Turmeric’s Ritualistic Significance
While turmeric can be ingested, in food or as medicines, it is also applied over the skin as a paste or inhaled nasally. It is a significant part of India’s traditional rituals too, where it is used as a colouring agent. It finds its way into wedding rituals; the groom and the bride are smeared with a layer of turmeric paste before their marriage, to soften the skin and add a glow to it. In parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, dried turmeric tuber tied with string is used to create a Thali necklace, while among Maharashtrians, Konkani and Kannada Brahmins, turmeric tubers are tied with strings by married couple to their wrists during a ceremony.
At home, turmeric is most often used in a dried powdered form in cooing. However, increasing awareness about its benefits is leading people to use it fresh, and vegetable vendors are stocking fresh tubers. It looks like ginger, only bright orange in colour, with a smoother cover texture. The advantage of turmeric is that it can be easily integrated into anyone’s daily diet. Even if not in a cooked dish, you can just put a pinch of turmeric powder over anything you are eating to reap its benefits.
For those following Ayurveda, Pitta-dominant people may sometimes experience increased body heat with the use of turmeric. They can add a pinch of turmeric to a cup of milk to control pitta.
Turmeric is also known as a great preservative. Turmeric supplements are available in the pill form. However, most experts recommend using raw turmeric for its benefits to be most effective. For those so inclined, it is relatively easy to grow at home. It grows best where the temperatures are between 20 and 30 °C, with generous amounts of annual rainfall.
The golden yellow spice is also a great flavour enhancer, an excellent spice to flavour your food as it’s low in sodium and calories, and sugar-free too. Turmeric may not still be regarded as a superfood, but do you still have any doubts that it should be?
DID YOU KNOW
- Turmeric requires temperatures between 20 and 30°C and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive.
- Plants are gathered each year for their rhizomes, some for propagation in the following season and some for consumption.
- To store fresh turmeric, put in a plastic, airtight bag in the refrigerator. This can used for up to three weeks.
- Besides Ayurveda, turmeric is also part of other schools of medicine such as Siddha, traditional Chinese medicines, Unani, and the animistic rituals of Austronesian peoples.
- Turmeric was first used by ancient humans as a dye.
The chefs at Niraamaya Retreats make extensive use turmeric in their cooking. Here’s a recipe from Kerala for you to try at home, courtesy Chef Prakash Nayak.
- Pineapple – 200g
- Coconut oil – 20ml
- Mustard seeds – ½ tbsp
- Red chilly whole – 2
- Curry leaves – 8
- Coconut – ½
- Ginger – 10g
- Green chili – 1
- Cumin – ½ tbsp
- Garlic – 10g
- Curd – 100g
- Turmeric powder – ½ tbsp
- In a pan pour the coconut oil and heat.
- Put mustard seeds and roast till they crackle, add split red chili, curry leaves, chop ginger, green chilli, coconut paste (grated Coconut, cumin, garlic, curry leaves, green chilli, mustard seeds) and sauté for ten minutes.
- Add salt, turmeric powder, pineapple cubes and sauté well again for a few minutes.
- Remove from the fire.
- Then add the whisked curd, pour the coconut mixture, stir well. Check the salt
- Simmer till done, and remove from fire.
Turmeric milk for cold and sour throat
- Milk – 1 cup
- Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
- Crushed pepper – 2to 3
- Dry ginger – ½ tsp
- Honey to taste
- Heat the milk on a medium heat.
- Add the spices – turmeric, ginger and pepper and stir well.
- Let the milk begin to simmer but not boil.
- Turn off the heat and let the spices infuse for a couple of minutes.
- Strain the milk, add honey for taste and serve warm.
TURMERIC – IN VARIOUS LANGUAGES
This is one superfood that finds mention in several cultures and is part of different linguistic heritage.
- English – Turmeric
- Hindi – Haldi, Hardi
- Telugu – Pasupu, Pasupu Kommulu
- Tamil – Manjal
- Kannada – Arishina
- Punjabi – Haldi, Haldar, Halaj
- Bengali – Halud
- Gujarati – Haladar
- Marathi – Halad
- Arabian – Kumkum
- Farsi – Zardchob
- Malayalam – Manjal