Turmeric is a relative newcomer to the West, although it has been cultivated in the Indian subcontinent for around 5,000 years. At first it was used as a dye, and later for its uses in medicine and cooking. In the West it’s used extensively as a yellow food colouring, in mustards, piccalilli, sweets etc. It is a very strong dye, so you need to be careful when using it, as it will stain everything it touches- not good for messy eaters (or for kitchen surfaces).
It has spiritual uses in Hinduism and Buddhism and is applied to a bride’s face and body as part of a pre-marriage purification ceremony. Generally it’s thought to be good for the skin. In Indian medicine it is used to prevent liver diseases, and people take it in warm water, before breakfast to prevent liver problems. If you inhale turmeric smoke, it is said to stop hiccups. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used to help counteract the ageing process. It can help with stomach disorders, and can stop diarrhea.
In the West, scientists have been slow to research the properties of turmeric, but it has been shown in one study that it can have beneficial effects in some cancer treatments if it is used on the skin. Scientists now also agree with the ancient practitioners that it may protect the liver.
It is often called ‘poor man’s saffron’ as it gives food the same colour as saffron does and is much cheaper. It can be found in commercially produced curry powder, but we don’t use this in our cooking. It gives a very different flavour to that of the delicate saffron, so although people use it as a substitute, the taste of the dish will be affected, although it will look the same.
Some people eat the fresh rhizomes of turmeric (which resemble those of ginger), and they may be eaten raw in salads, if you have the chance to buy fresh rhizomes.
We use it in ‘curry’ sauce with pakoras. However, this is not the same as the curry sauce you are served in typical Asian restaurants.
We also think it’s good to clean wounds and staunch the flow of blood from them. If you have pimples or spots, you should mix it with chopped onion and a little flour and water to a paste, then warm this and apply it while warm to the affected area.
250 gr cooked diced potatoes
1 large onion, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ inch piece of ginger root, finely chopped
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 handful shredded coriander leaves
freshly ground black pepper and salt
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
Heat oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic along with the cumin seeds, ginger, coriander seeds, chilli powder and turmeric. When cooked add the cooked potatoes and the chopped tomatoes and thyme. Cook over a low heat and add the beaten eggs and fresh coriander leaves. Season to taste, and cook, stirring constantly until the eggs are cooked-about 5 mins.
This has Taste and is a Treat.