It is among earth’s first-known spices, also one of its most beneficial. Turmeric, a relative of ginger, boasts a staggering range of qualities that make it a must-have in your spice box. Besides, this beautiful yellow spice gives a rich colour to gravies, stir-fries and lentils, and it is known to bring a radiant glow to skin.
According to Ayurveda, turmeric imparts three of the 6 essential tastes to food: bitter, astringent and pungent (the other three being salty, sour and sweet).
It balances all the doshas—Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
India has one of the lowest rates of Alzheimers in the world, and research studies give part of the credit to the nation’s high usage of turmeric.
The magic ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, time-tested for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antispetic properties. That is why my grandmother used to comfort burns and wounds with a warm poultice of ghee and turmeric—both highly prized by Ayurveda for their role in healing.
Although Ayurvedic healers have known of turmeric’s wondrous qualities for many centuries, modern research has not lab-tested it to prove its role in healing tumours, curing coughs, lowering bad cholesterol, easing arthritis and pampering skin. Every now and then, a new study announces yet another good thing that turmeric can do, and high time, too! This humble relative of ginger deserves all the glory.
It is so easy to introduce a touch of turmeric into your life!
Next: 3 Great ways to use turmeric!
3 Simple Ideas to get you started:
Heat a teaspoon of ghee or olive oil in a small pan. Tip in ½ tsp cumin seeds, ¼ tsp turmeric, and a little sweet paprika. Take the pan off the stove as soon as the cumin seeds begin crackling, which will happen within a few seconds. Pour the spiced ghee over steamed vegetables or soup.
When boiling rice, add a pinch of turmeric to it—gives a lovely hue to the rice. Sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro leaves on top once the rice is done, and you have a pleasant, appetizing bowl of rice to enjoy.
Boil 1 cup of lentils with ¼ tsp turmeric and salt to your taste. When done, stir in some crushed ginger-root and garlic. Squeeze lemon juice—as much or as little as you like, into your hot ‘dal’.
A traditional skin-care recipe from India: mix 1/2 tsp turmeric powder into 3 tbsp plain yogurt, and rub all over face and neck. Wash off after a few minutes for a lovely dewy glow. Turmeric is the starring spice at Indian weddings for its proven beauty benefits, too.