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Thursday, September 23, 2010

WHAT IS KACHUR? WHITE TURMERIC, ZEDOARY, CURCUMA ZEDORIA: HISTORY AND USES

kachur root
KACHUR, WHITE TURMERIC, ZEDOARY, CURCUMA ZEDOARIA


Kachur, Curcuma zedoaria or white turmeric or zedoary is not very well known in the West. Apparently it was introduced into Europe by the Arabs in the 6th century and gained in popularity, if we are to believe manuscripts that were written prior to the 16th century. If these are indeed about white turmeric then it was a very popular spice which is rarely used in cooking these days. Either early writers mistook this root or rhizome for ginger root or turmeric or even salsify, or tastes have changed a lot over the centuries, as Kachur has a very bitter taste and smells of camphor. It is sometimes used finely grated in pickles in the Indian subcontinent, but is more often used in medicine. It is also used as medicine in China and Japan, but is native to northern India and Pakistan. In India its essential oil is used in perfumes and in alcoholic drinks. In Thailand the fresh young rhizome of white turmeric or Kachur is cooked and eaten as a vegetable. It might also be used in some curry pastes. It’s an ancient spice and related to turmeric. Kurkum in Arabic means saffron and it does make the saliva yellow when chewed, so perhaps there was a little confusion, as it is not related to the crocus from which we get saffron.
kachur plant

In India Zedoary is considered a weed, and it is believed that it grows in Panama and other parts of the South American continent where it is called the “Resurrection Plant.” It has been speculated that this is because it flowers at Easter, but we think it is more likely to have been given this name because of its many medicinal properties. This amazing root is still being subjected to medical trials and the medical researchers are being cagier than usual about its properties. They do say that kachur has anti-inflammatory properties, which has long been known in traditional medicine, and that it does have antiseptic qualities - it has been used for centuries to heal wounds on the Indian subcontinent. It can be made into a paste and applied directly onto the skin and is used for a wide variety of skin complaints. In India and Pakistan it is included in creams to prevent ageing and wrinkles. It is supposed to be extremely effective as an anti ageing agent.

kachur flower
You can make an infusion of this to be drunk as a tisane, by using 1 tablespoon of the finely chopped kachur root to 1 pint of boiling water. Allow it to steep for 30 mins and drink it two or three times a day. It is an antioxidant and is said to help sexual problems in both men and women. It is said to strengthen the uterus muscles and so help in childbirth and to cure male erectile dysfunctions, as well as being an aphrodisiac. Kachur is also used to stop diseases recurring (it’s an anti-periodic), and to treat colds, flatulence, digestive disorders, ulcers, gastro-intestinal problems, and the tisane will prevent indigestion if taken 30 minutes before a meal. It has also been used to clean and purify the blood and detoxifies the body. It helps in cell regeneration and is good for the immune system. It regulates body temperature and is used in cases of fever.

White turmeric has a high starch content and is often given to those who are recuperating after an illness and to the very young (it stops colic).Whether or not it actually is helpful in all these instances is open to debate. But a lot of people here swear by it as an “almost” cure all.

No recipe as we don’t eat it. Try the recipes with ginger or turmeric instead.

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