Turmeric or Haldi is the 'yellow gold' of Indian cookery. If you are venturing into Indian cooking, turmeric is one of the basic and most essential spice that you should have in your kitchen. For centuries, turmeric has been used in various forms in our food and drinks.
Turmeric is sourced from the root of the flowering turmeric plant scientifically known as Cucurma longa, of the ginger family. It is bitter in taste and has a bright orangish – yellow root. The root is either used fresh by making a paste or is dried naturally under the sun and ground into what we know as turmeric powder.
Turmeric is also considered auspicious in many Indian ceremonies such as in weddings and venerations. Turmeric paste is applied on both the bride and groom as part of a pre-marriage ritual known as the Haldi ceremony. Raw turmeric paste is also used as part of skin cleansing routine for a blemish-free skin. Evidently, it is a time-tested skin treatment and beauty enhancer used for thousands of years. Turmeric infused milk is used in Indian households to boost immuniity and is antibiotic which helps in the healing process of the body. Also, turmeric milk provides relief for sore throats. A simple home remedy for sore throat is gargling with hot water mixed with turmeric and salt. Turmeric is also added to
Turmeric is also used as a natural dye in colouring fabrics.
Use in Indian Cookery
Turmeric is used almost in all Indian curries. It provides the distinctive yellow colour to the food. Because of the strength of its colour, it is only used in tiny amounts, using too much will make the food bitter.
It is known to have various medicinal properties and has been used for thousands of years as home remedy for various ailments.
It is a natural healing agent for wounds, cuts and bruises due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
Its medicinal properties are due to its main active ingredient known as Cucurmin.
Cucurmin recently is known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti cancer affects.
However, cucurmin is not easily absorbed by the human body. It can be substantially enhanced by consuming black pepper which contains piperine along with turmeric. Fatty foods have been proven to aid in cucurmin absorption as well.
Turmeric root is also known to be a good source of vitamin C, Vitamin B6, vitamin E and niacin.
It is also a great source of many minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, and magnesium.
Turmeric does not contain any cholesterol and in fact it is an excellent source of antioxidants and dietary fibre which helps control bad cholesterol levels.
Inputs and References:
The complete book of ayurvedic home remedies by Vasant Lad, B.A.M.S, M.A.Sc
Beginner's guide to cooking with spices by Joseph Veebe
Input from M Gogoi, inhouse Nutritionist, OLB, Assistant Professor , FSN,FHSc