There are loads of exotic and lesser-known foods that really should be part of any food lover's life. We have all heard of superfoods and various foods that are thought to contain such high levels of certain vitamins and nutrients that they are powerhouses of nutrition. These foods are often touted as the next big thing, sure to cure all that ails you.
While there is certainly a lot of wiggle room into whether these are accurate claims or not, it is true that there are certain foods and even spices that are unsung heroes. Spices like turmeric and fenugreek, are fairly unknown to most in the west but have long been prized for flavor, color, and various health and wellness properties for hundreds of years.
In this article, we will focus on the humble but amazing root called turmeric. Most often seen to us as ground turmeric, it is a vibrantly bright yellowy orange spice that adds a mild warming quality to a variety of foods, including curries, turmeric milk (golden milk), and turmeric tea. In fact, it is turmeric that is responsible for the signature yellow hue of many types of traditional curry and a lot of Middle Eastern food.
Beyond the beautiful hue it brings to any foods that it is added to, turmeric has a unique, mild, but incomparable flavor profile that adds a unique, authentic flavor to a wide range of tasty dishes. The ground root is also known to have a wide range of positive health benefits, which make it an even more attractive ingredient to add to your cooking repertoire.
Perhaps most widely and commonly used in India, turmeric has been used in cooking and medicine for thousands of years—perhaps much longer. Long before science came along to prove the varied claims about certain foods and spices, people relied on turmeric for a wide range of health complaints and now science is taking up what people have—for millennia—already believed.
The main compound in turmeric that has a positive health benefit is called curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound and is also an antioxidant, which we know helps to fight free radicals. Curcumin is correlated to far more than just helping to fight inflammation.
This compound is also shown to help inhibit the growth and even formation of certain types of cancer cells and is thought to help counter infections. This active ingredient is also known to be an antioxidant which can help you prevent various degenerative diseases as well as fight the visible signs of aging. Turmeric use has been linked to reduced menstrual pain, improved skin tone and texture, and is also thought to aid in digestive health.
So, you are probably wondering how you can incorporate this seemingly magical substance into your daily diet. The most obvious way is to start making curry at home, which often relies heavily on turmeric for its flavor profile as well as its unique color. But curry is most certainly not the only way that you can enjoy this wonder spice. Another common way it is enjoyed is more about the color than the flavor.
A common vegan alternative to scrambled eggs is a scrambled tofu dish. Turmeric, with its bright yellow color, is often added to scrambled tofu to give it an egg like color. The result is a dish that looks remarkably like scrambled eggs. If you use a strong flavor profile in seasoning the tofu, the turmeric will not significantly affect the flavor of the scrambled tofu, so you can use it almost purely for the color it adds to the dish.
You can also make a very vibrantly colored rice dish by adding a tablespoon or two of ground turmeric to the water you use to cook rice in. This will impart a gorgeous hue to the dish, without overpowering the rice. Once the rice has been cooked, it can be seasoned and used however you like.
Of course, there are far more ways to use turmeric than in curry or making scrambled tofu that looks like scrambled eggs. Turmeric is a popular spice that is used the world over in a wide range of cuisines and types of food. What follows are just some of the more common ways in which people traditionally enjoy foods with turmeric in them.
For a warming, strong, and brightly flavored tea. You can blend hot water with up to a teaspoon of turmeric powder, cardamom, cloves, cayenne pepper, goji berries, hemp seeds, and black pepper. This is a very strongly flavored tea that is not for the faint of heart, but those who enjoy rich, earthy, spicy hot beverages this is a treat that is hard to beat.
Turmeric also pairs really well with earthy root vegetables and helps bring together a wide range of seasonal vegetables into a tasty root vegetable and chickpea meal bowl. This is an incredibly easy dish to make is a perfect vegetarian lunch or light dinner.
First, you sauté or roast your choice of root vegetables, toss these vegetables with turmeric, garam masala, salt, and pepper. Toss the root vegetables with cooked garbanzo beans, lemon juice, and honey. Layer this mixture over a bed of white, brown, or jasmine rice. Serve with yogurt, tahini sauce, and a variety of fresh herbs like chopped mint and parsley.
Turmeric might be a relatively unknown spice to many people, but it has been used and sworn by for thousands of years from people all around the world. Known for its yellow hue and warming flavor, turmeric is a root that is most often ground for use in curries, Middle Eastern food, natural health remedies, and so much more. Those of us familiar with turmeric are most likely familiar with its use in so many popular curry dishes and it is what gives these dishes their beautiful color. However, turmeric can be used in so much more that curries. It makes a strong, spicy, warming tea, pairs well with root vegetables and certain meats, and can even be used as a way to color certain foods.