Turmeric

IMG_2544

What is it?

For the geeks out there (I say that lovingly.  I am a geek when it comes to wanting to know random facts about anything and everything) turmeric is a rhizome, or a big mass of roots.  It looks like ginger root, only the inside flesh is a bright carrot orange.  It is mainly grown in India, the largest exporter of the spice.  In parts of Asia, turmeric can be eaten raw, but more commonly the root is dried, peeled and ground into a powder before adding it to food.  In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is known to cleanse the liver and stave off a cold.  My mother-in-law always tells me to mix it in warm milk if my throat gets sore (thank goodness I’m not writing about ayurvedic stuff because the taste of ground turmeric and milk is so horrible to me, I could not pretend to like it!  But it does seem to help ailments). 

Taste:

Pungent if you were to put some ground turmeric on your tongue; aromatic when used in cooking.  Very mild.

How to use

Turmeric is most commonly used in curry dishes of any type (vegetable, rice-based, meat, etc.) and therefore is a prevalent spice in Asia, particularly India.  Turmeric also lends a beautiful orange/yellow color to dishes. Ever wonder how your Thai yellow curry gets that warm color? A pinch of turmeric.  Golden yellow Moroccan rice dishes? Turmeric is the color maker.

Baby food use:

Since ground turmeric has a warm flavor and imparts a natural golden color it is the perfect seasoning for baby food.  Add it to just about anything, particularly root vegetable pureés like turnips or potatoes.  Adding turmeric and then other baby-friendly spices will give your little one his or her first taste of “curry” which we will discuss in other parts of the blog (also my book, Ethnic Baby Food: Simple and Easy Baby Food Recipes from Around the World).

Sources:

The World Encyclopedia of Spices by Sallie Morris and Lesley Mackley

Anness Publishing Limited (1997, 1999)