Until recently, the spice turmeric was not only pronounced incorrectly (it’s tur-mer-ic, not too-me-ric, people!), but most people were using it only for curries, along with other classic Indian and Southeast Asian ingredients.
All of a sudden, though, in the last couple of years, turmeric has become just too cool to stay in India. Trendy in lattes and shooters and in wellness mama blogs, in elixirs, in fitness magazines and in every new blender book out there, turmeric is all the rage. It’s only a matter of time before people start slathering turmeric paste on skin for beautification, healing or wound care like they do in India.
Turmeric is widely known for its healing properties, so why not start stocking it in your pantry and begin experimenting with it in your kitchen? Forget the supplements — you can get all the healing benefits by eating it in your diet. Plus, then you get to eat good, home-cooked food!
If you decide to keep a little stash of the soft, golden powder or a knob of the fresh, fibrous root in your kitchen, you’ll be pleased to know that you can cook plenty of other everyday foods with turmeric besides all of the above.
The key is this: If you’re adding turmeric for flavor or color, you don’t need much, maybe just a few pinches. If you’re adding it for the health benefits, then you need more than a pinch — like, up to a teaspoon or so. But then you’ll definitely be able to taste the potent powder, unless other spices and herbs overpower it.
Earthy medicine is what I taste when I have turmeric raw and uncooked. But maybe that’s because in my childhood as an Indian-American born and raised in Houston, Texas, I grudgingly inhaled shots of golden milk anytime my mother saw the start of a sniffle! Our version growing up included only warmed whole milk, a heap of powdered turmeric and plenty of plain sugar. But nondairy milks and honey seem to be becoming popular here, and the effect is certainly the same.
Here are a few dishes (back to real food, yes!) you could consider throwing a few pinches of dried turmeric into or a bit of grated fresh turmeric root.
Italian herbs work surprisingly well with turmeric, and the color just penetrates into the summer red tomatoes surreptitiously.
Great cooked with breakfast potatoes or hash browns.
In fact, if you are sautéing garlic and onions, you can probably throw in a little fresh grated turmeric for good measure. Then give yourself a pat on the back for thinking of your health.
You know the ones with warming spices like cinnamon or black pepper or maybe dried ginger? Turmeric fits right into those brews.
When cooking the grains (like farro or wheat berries), boil them in a turmeric-y broth to add a bit of color.
You can sneak the spice into already-yellow breakfast dishes like frittatas or plain scrambled eggs. But just use a pinch — otherwise your kids will know it’s in there.
Think shepherd’s pie, chili, kebabs, burgers.
The two are practically married. OK, maybe not in pumpkin pie. But I would still try it!
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