There is much about turmeric that is worthy of raves – not just for health, but in the kitchen as well. In fact, Marco Polo recorded notes about this spice on his diary while he was in China in 1280 AD, saying “There is also a vegetable which has all the properties of true saffron, as well as the smell and the color, and yet it is not really saffron.” For over 700 years now, turmeric has been substituting saffron, the world’s most expensive spice.
Perhaps the most noteworthy component of turmeric is curcumin, a curcuminoid that is responsible for giving the spice its yellow color.
Like other important herbs and spices (such as tulsi), turmeric is a principal herb in Ayurveda, Indian’s ancient holistic health system.
Today you can find turmeric in the spice aisle of most supermarkets, but know that turmeric powder bought from the grocery does not necessarily come from high-quality organic herbs or manufactured through certified organic methods.
However, a pure, organic turmeric source would be very easy to use in the kitchen and household, with a handful of recipes shared around on the Web to celebrate the taste and effects of this ingredient. Here are three of them.
Broken Thermostat Curry
Makes 6 servings
- 1 small onion, chopped,
- 5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 2 cups water
- 1 medium yam, peeled and diced
- 7 small red potatoes, cubed
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Puree the onion and carrots in a food processor or blender until finely ground.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the garlic until fragrant and lightly browned. Pour in the carrot puree, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Pour in diced tomatoes, water, yam, red potatoes, and cauliflower. Season with turmeric, curry powder, cumin, garam masala, cayenne, and red pepper flakes.
- Simmer until potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.
Authentic Saag Paneer
Makes 4 servings
- 2 bunches spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch fenugreek leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- ½ pound paneer, cubed
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon, grated fresh ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- Salt to taste
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook spinach and fenugreek in the boiling water until wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. Puree until finely chopped, about 5 pulses.
- Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry paneer cubes, stirring constantly until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in the skillet and fry the cumin seeds until lightly toasted and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add onion, and then cook and stir until onion begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in ginger, garlic, tomato, garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir until tomatoes break down and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in spinach and fenugreek, cream, paneer cubes, and salt to taste. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Easy Chicken Korma
Makes 4 servings
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 6 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mango chutney
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, chopped
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 1 two-quart baking dish.
- Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onions in oil until soft.
- Place onion, yogurt, mango chutney, garlic, turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala into the bowl of a food processor. Process into a smooth sauce. Achieve the consistency of thick cream. Add a bit of water or yogurt to thin it if needed.
- Spread chicken into prepared baking dish, and pour the onion sauce over the chicken.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top, and serve.
Sonya Rashad is a food blogger who is also a health and fitness enthusiast. She loves cooking with spices like turmeric not only for their much-celebrated taste, but also their health value.