If you’ve ever stopped off for a curry on the way home from a great night out, chances are you have eaten turmeric.
One of the most fetching culinary spices, turmeric has an intense golden hue. The major ingredient in Indian curries, turmeric is the component responsible for curry’s dizzying colour but is now being looked at closely for its health benefits.
While we are commonly reminded to eat colourful plant foods because their pigments have important anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric’s intense colour makes it a front-runner in this group of food and its main ingredient, curcumin – found only in turmeric – appears to be the magic ingredient.
Fresh turmeric root is available at speciality produce stores and the root looks very similar to ginger and has a paper-thin skin which hides a bright-orange flesh.
The roots are best kept in the freezer as they are easier to grate when frozen. Be warned – fresh turmeric stains easily, so unless you want to turn your kitchen yellow, handle with gloves and care. In that event, all is not lost: lemon juice usually removes turmeric stains.
You can use turmeric powder to make your own signature curry powder to rival any Masterchef contestant. Store-bought curry powder isn’t one single spice, it’s a blend of many but after sitting on supermarket shelves for months on end, it can end up tasting flat and boring.
Make your own stand-out curry powder by adding equal amounts of ground turmeric, chilli power, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger and pepper and add a potent health-busting punch to your next meat or vegetarian dish.
To soothe arthritis and inflammed joints, use freshly grated turmeric root, or powder, and apply it externally to the affected joint in what is known as a poultice. Mix one teaspoon of freshly grated root – or one teaspoon of turmeric powder – and add enough water to mix it into a smooth paste.
Apply the paste between two gauze bandages and strap in place for 15 – 20 minutes. Any staining, which can last for a couple of days, can usually be removed by using freshly squeezed lemon juice.