Turmeric or Curcumin, is a spice without which an Indian kitchen is incomplete. Call it a herb, spice or remedy, it does wonders for health, heals the body inside out and provides nourishment and health.
Hindi – Haldi
Bengali – Shati
Marathi – Halad
Kannada – Kasthuri arishina
Telugu – Kasthuri pasupa
Turmeric is the single most important ingredient that can transform dishes. From the flavorful Hyderabadi Bagar Bhaingan, to the Hyderabadi Mirchi Ka Salan, two dishes who’s vibrant hue can be attributed to turmeric, Matar Paneer and even the uniquitious Toor Dal, this spice is a must-have ingredient when cooking. The young roots of turmeric are cooked in a yogurt based curry in Rajasthan Kacchi Haldi Ki sabzi and it is also made into a pickle which is enjoyed during winters with the meals.
A root that grows in rainy areas and required lots of moisture, it is used fresh, or boiled, dried and ground into a fine orange-yellow powder and used by people majorly in the Asian continent – Bangladesh, India and Pakistan for food preparation.
Because of its long history, stretching through centuries, it was found that turmeric is one of the key ingredients used in Ayurvedic preparations, and was also used as a natural dye for clothes. Pure turmeric or saffron is a very costly spice and in earlier days, it was also used as barter.
Its subsequent use in culinary preparations have made its use elsewhere less, but the taste and flavour its lends to food can never be replaced. It is also used in many sweet dishes and desserts, such as cakes, orange juice, biscuits and sauces.
In middle Eastern cuisine, turmeric is used in Persian dishes as a starter ingredient. Khoresh, a starter is cooked in onions caramelized in turmeric with other ingredients.
This versatile spice also has the following health properties;
- It has powerful bioactive properties and is therefore used extensively in medicine. Curcumin is anti-oxidant and is also used in creams and ointments.
- The spice is also anti-inflammatory.
- It rejuvenates cells of the body, keeping it youthful and slowing the ageing process
- It aids in memory and improves brain function
- Saffron also reduces heart disease and helps reduce occurence of cancer.
Addition of this wonderful spice to foods not just increases the look and taste of dishes, but also brings about considerable positive changes to health in the long run.