Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Turmeric

Part of the Ginger family, Turmeric is a root with a light to medium colored brown skin and a rich yellow-orange inside. This is one of the most widely used ingredients in Asian curries and soups. Turmeric imparts an earthy flavor, subtle on the palate and scent. It is also extremely difficult to remove if spilled on clothing so take great care when cooking with it (see removing Turmeric stains).

Used both in its fresh root form and as a powder, turmeric is revered in Southeast Asia as a multi-functional healer. Beyond its many uses in the kitchen, turmeric is often used in herbal tonic drinks, known to cure different ailments ranging from cancer to indigestion. My parents and I often drink turmeric in a very simple to make concoction- just mix a heaping teaspoon of it in hot water with some honey or drink it at bedtime with warm milk and honey.

Before wedding ceremonies, Indonesian brides have traditionally used turmeric as part of a body lulur (scrubs), believing in its anti-bacterial and skin whitening properties.

While fresh turmeric is very difficult to find outside of Asia, Asian markets in the West do carry both its frozen and powdered form, both of which are acceptable for use in home cooking. Even most Western markets these days carry Turmeric powder in its staple of dried spices.

Since 2015, turmeric, like pretty much every other ingredient coming out of Asia, Middle East and Africa, started having its wild turn in the spotlight in America, touted as being the “golden” ingredient of the moment. Google “turmeric drinks” and you’ll be deluged with thousands of articles written by bloggers too eager to lay claim to having invented these concoctions. Sorry, those good for you turmeric drinks were invented by our ancestors hundreds, if not thousands of years ago.

All hype aside, for my parents, turmeric has done wonders to combat rising inflammation. For me, it has helped combat headaches and oncoming colds. Just to take advantage of all of its healing properties, I even toss in big pinches whenever I can into salad dressings, stir-fries, pretty much anywhere that I know its flavor won’t mess with whatever I’m preparing. Those banana orange smoothies? Toss in a big pinch of turmeric powder (ground turmeric). You won’t taste it but given time and consistent ingestion, no doubt your body will thank you.