A wonder spice that works for everyone at home: Turmeric

Turmeric Plant
Turmeric Plant

Turmeric is probably the most researched of all spices. Nearly eight thousand articles have been published in and about six hundred of them were in the year 2015 alone! It’s definitely one spice you want to take in on a daily basis. Curcumin is the active substance in it. This is found to be a very powerful anti-oxidant.

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The most beautiful thing about using this spice in cooking, you don’t have to worry about dose, contraindication – nothing! Truly a case where food is medicine and medicine is food. You can buy it fresh (Indian and other Asian grocers or farmers market) or dried and powdered (most grocers have it in the spice or Ethnic food aisle).

Fresh Turmeric:

Wash and pat dry. Use it like you’d use ginger. It has a bite so go easy!

  1. Smoothies – about  quarter inch piece, along with some source of fat, like nuts or seeds or milk.
  2. Soups – a quarter inch piece – grated. Saute with a teaspoon of oil in the very beginning.

Dried Powdered Turmeric:

 Things to remember:

  • Turmeric is better absorbed if you used a teeny weeny bit of fat along with it. For example, when you pair it with nut milk, nuts will be the source of fat.
  • Black pepper is another spice that can enhance turmeric absorption in the body. For instance, if you are using turmeric in the soup, using black pepper is a better choice versus cayenne to add some heat.

How to make the Turmeric habit happen:

Now, these are ONLY ideas until you apply them. And actively using is the only way to get results. Duh! Don’t we know that already? Yeah, what is also true is, how we know many things that we do not actually follow. This is how I’ve made it work for me:

Turmeric jar lives right next to my stove. And 1/8 measuring spoon is her neighbor!  If you need motivation to help you with the turmeric habit here is a long list of what it does from head to toe –  – fights depression, Alzheimer’s- known to protect our eyes (studied in connection with retinitis pigmentosa)- used routinely in combination with coconut oil as a dental rub to help the teeth and gums stay healthy- it is known to work wonders for sore throat – heart-protective properties such as ability to reduce cholesterol and fight inflammation- has a role preventing and treating cancer- known to be very effective in managing pain- used to reduce bloating, gas and in treating nausea.

This list is mentions only some uses of turmeric and newer ones are being discovered all the time. Some good and reliable resources are 1. NutritionFacts.org 2. Dr. Greger’s book, How Not To Die

Turmeric as a spice in your cooking is NOT the same as taking Turmeric supplement.

  1. A cup of hot nut milk + 1/8 teaspoon of Turmeric – to pour on your cereal.
  2. When you boil vegetables – say, potatoes or carrots or beans or peas – just about any vegetable, put 1/8 – 1/4 tsp of turmeric in the water. Expect the color of the boiled vegetable to get a yellow tint, especially if the vegetable is light colored such as cauliflower.
  3. Cooking lentils or beans? Add 1/8 -1/4 tsp to the water or any other liquid you’re using as base.
  4. Turmeric powder as a spice does NOT need pairing. It goes very well with most vegetables and often used even in desserts. For instance, with cacao powder if are into making your own chocolate. You could use up to 1/2- 1 tsp of Turmeric per cup of cacao powder. This does not alter the taste but only amps up the nutritive value of your end product

Now, it’s your turn!

Do you have any ideas on how YOU would use turmeric in your kitchen? Leave a comment. The new e-book would be a great resource if you are the kind who likes to make healthy taste delicious!

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4 thoughts on “A wonder spice that works for everyone at home: Turmeric

  1. Hi Girja,
    I had always preferred fresh turmeric to dried powdered turmeric. I’d pound it together the other spices with the pestle and mortar to form a paste. When fried, this paste is so aromatic and the turmeric gives a nice yellow colour to the dish. The only disadvantage of using fresh turmeric is that I have to be vey careful so that it will not stain my countertop. Once, instead of using the pestle and mortar, I used the electric chopper. The clear container was stained a permanent yellow. Darn!
    I had tried substituting fresh turmeric for the dried powdered turmeric but found that to be a poor substitute. First, the colour is not that vibrant. Secondly, it is not so palatable, leaves a chalky kind of aftertaste.
    I am glad that I came across your blog and youtube video on how to temper the spice. I will certainly put my bottle of dried turmeric that has been sitting on the shelf to good use.
    Girja, do all Indian spices need to be tempered first or only selective ones? The other Indian spices that I have used are garam masala and curry powder.


    • Dear Liz,

      Excellent questions! Okay, let’s tackle from the top.

      For your chopper container that got stained : I’d try using hydrogen peroxide. You may like to check Sohie Uliano’s You Tube post on it’s uses. It’s definitely worth trying it.

      Turmeric Powder as opposed to fresh Turmeric: You are right about the after-taste. Tempering is the solution. Also, what exactly was the dish like – for example was it a soupy something that you wanted to use turmeric in? Or was it a grain dish like rice or quinoa?

      Also, Turmeric (in powder form), sometimes is adulterated. So you gotta be aware of this and buy from a place where you are sure of the quality.

      Other Indian spices: Most do better when tempered. But it really depends on the desired flavor. When you use it straight, it is one flavor. But when you roast it, it changes. It further changes when you powder it. This is what is fascinating to most people who play with spices. I highly recommend the new e-book, if you haven’t taken it yet. I’ve shared a method to playing with flavors that people LOVE in the workshops.

      Garam masala and Curry powder: I have some wonderful recipes for those – stay tuned.

      • Hi Girja,
        Thank you for your suggested solutions. I’ll look it up on youtube.

        How do I use turmeric?
        Dry powdered turmeric: sprinkle it, together with garam masala, salt and pepper and oil, on fish for grilling.
        Fresh turmeric: pound it together with other fresh spices like galangal, garlic, shallots to form a spice paste which I’d use to fry with seafood like squid or prawns. I’ve used the same for chicken soup too.

        Looking forward to more cooking tips from you.

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