Food, Recipes

Turmeric – Mysterious and Medical.


In India, turmeric is as famous as their Taj Mahal, and is used daily in cooking. This brownish, gnarled tuber, as research has shown, has the potential to block cancer cells. It has therefore, gained medical research interest in North America.

Related to ginger, galangan and cardamom, turmeric is a rhizome, the subterranean stem of a perennial plant called curcuma longa by botanists.

Fresh turmeric is covered with a light brown skin that hides its deep orange colour. Turmeric smells somewhat like ginger, but has a slightly bitter taste.

This tuber has been used in south east Asia for centuries for dying, as a food colouring, and body painting for centuries.

Marco Polo was the first European to encounter it in 1280 in China, and reported turmeric to have a taste similar to saffron, which was an obvious exaggeration.

Turmeric is widely used in American mustard, as an important ingredient in Worcestershire Sauce, candies, cookies, yellow cakes, popcorn, ice creams, cereals, sauces, food colouring, curry mixtures, and in cooking from Morocco to the Antilles, and Bombay to Boston.

Indian ayurvedic texts recognize turmeric as a remedy for illnesses involving digestion, skin diseases, menstrual disorders, as an anti-inflammatory drug, and it is also known as an anti-oxidant.

Turmeric dissolves fully in fat but not in water, therefore if  used in cooking  it must be in a  fat medium.

The human body can assimilate turmeric in proportions varying anywhere from 20 – 60 percent. However, when consumed in the same dish containing pepper and fresh pineapple the assimilation rate increases significantly.

Some researchers in California found conclusive evidence of turmeric to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and more importantly it is harmless even if consumed in relatively large quantities daily i.e. one to three grams.

Turmeric stores well in tightly sealed containers for up to four weeks.

Broiled root vegetables with turmeric

Yield 6 portions

2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 ½ cups of carrots cut into one cm diagonal slices
3 cups of potatoes peeled and cut into 2 1/5 cm cubes
2 cups rutabaga peeled and cut into one cm. sticks
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 220 C. Place a wire rack in roasting pan and line with parchment paper

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except oil and seasoning. Toss well. Add oil. Toss again. Add seasoning and mix well.

Spread vegetables on the roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes. Turn vegetables and continue roasting for another 15 minutes.

Turn on the broiler and broil until vegetables are nicely browned.

Chicken drumsticks with paprika and turmeric

Yield 4 portions

1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
12 chicken drumsticks
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 C.

In a bowl combine spices and salt. In another bowl combine chicken and garlic, and season with spice mixture and add pepper.

In a skillet gently brown the chicken in oil for approximately 10 minutes.

Transfer to roasting pan and bake until the meat can be pulled from the bone easily. (This should take approximately 30 – 40 minutes)


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