Learn About Turmeric

Author: Chef Toby

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What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice made of a root that grows in India and other parts of Asia. The root itself looks a lot like ginger root; tan, oblong, and with knots. The inside is a bright, yellow-orange color. The dried version is most popular; however, Indian, Thai, and other Asian cuisines use both the root and the dried spice. Like saffron, turmeric adds vibrant yellow color to whatever its added to. 

What does Turmeric taste like?

Dried turmeric has a pungent, bitter, earthy flavor, with notes of mustard and horseradish. 

How do you use Turmeric?

Usually, cooks use turmeric alongside other spices. It is a core spice in many curry powders that you can add to soups, stews, meats, noodles, and rice dishes. As it cooks, turmeric’s flavor gets stronger, so it is best to add a small amount during cooking.

Learn About Turmeric
Turmeric and turmeric powder on wooden background

Where do you buy Turmeric?

You can find dried, ground turmeric in the spice aisle of any major grocery store. Fresh turmeric is a bit harder to come by, but can likely be sourced at health food stores or Asian supermarkets. 

How do you store Turmeric?

Store dried ground turmeric in a cool, dry place inside of an airtight container. Store fresh turmeric root inside of the fridge for up to two weeks, or store it in the freezer for several months. 

Fun fact about Turmeric:

If you need saffron for a dish, use a small amount of turmeric as a less expensive replacement! Although it does not have the flavor of saffron, it lends your food that signature yellow saffron color.

Did you know?

Turmeric is highly nutritious and used by many people as a supplement. Many believe that turmeric can treat many different ailments, including: 

  • Treating arthritis pain 
  • Reducing the chance of a heart attack after heart surgery 
  • Reducing skin irritation after chemotherapy for cancer patients

Recipes Using Turmeric

Tandoori Carrots with Turmeric

Give your carrot side dish some Indian flare with yogurt sauce and turmeric oil. In a small bowl, toss carrots, yogurt, olive oil, curry powder, and garlic until combined. Roast the carrots on a baking sheet until tender and charred on the outside. In a separate bowl, combine more yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic, and set aside. In a skillet, toast fry ground turmeric with olive oil until fragrant. On a dish, layer the cooked carrots, yogurt sauce, turmeric oil, and serve.

Fried Rice with Kale and Turmeric

This recipe is perfect for using any leftover rice or vegetables that are losing freshness. In a large skillet, fry leftover rice in oil until crispy. Add in sliced kale and continue to cook until the kale is tender. At that point, add in scallion, garlic, and fresh ginger. Saute these until they are soft, and add in turmeric and eggs. Mix in the eggs until they are completely incorporated with the rice mixture and cooked. Replace the kale with Swiss chard or another leafy green vegetable if you don’t have kale available.

Iced Turmeric Latte

In a small bowl, combine turmeric, milk, sugar, lemon juice, cardamom, ginger, and salt and stir. Let the mixture sit for at least five minutes. Strain the mixture through a mesh colander, and press the ingredients down to extract all of the juices. Serve the mixture over ice and with a lemon wedge.

Chicken Curry

This chicken curry is great for a weeknight meal and can be made in less than 45 minutes. In a large, deep skillet, make a sauce with curry powder, onions, garlic, ginger, chicken broth, and tomatoes. Blend the mixture to make a smooth sauce, and transfer it back to the skillet. Add in pieces of chicken and cook until the chicken is tender. To thicken the sauce, add a mixture of water and cornstarch and simmer the sauce. Stir in heavy cream, garnish with cilantro, and serve with rice.

Homemade Curry Powder

To make your own curry powder, combine ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, fennel seeds, cinnamon, black pepper, ground mustard, and cloves in a spice grinder. Grind until the spices are combined and completely pulverized, and store in an airtight container.

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