Turmeric is an ancient spice that dates back 4,000 years, turmeric comes from the rhizome or underground stem of a ginger-like plant. Once harvested, the rhizomes are dried and polished, removing the skins, before grinding. Turmeric has a bright yellow to orange color and has historically been used as a natural dye, and even today is used as a commercial coloring agent in foods like mustard and cheese. With it’s warm, earthy, aromatic flavor and bitter undertone, turmeric is an essential spice in the Indian kitchen, found in most curry powders and tandoori spice blends. It is also used to season vegetables like cauliflower and potatoes, lentils, rice, seafood, poultry, chutneys, and pickles. Turmeric is also used in the cuisines of Nepal, South Asia, Morocco, and the Middle East.
Turmeric has been known to act as:
- a mild digestive
- a stimulant
- a carminative (reducer of flatulence)
- an antiseptic
If turmeric is not on-hand, omit from a recipe. Otherwise, to substitute turmeric’s bright hue, use saffron or mustard powder.