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Spices Unearthed: Turmeric

Said to improve skin tone when this spice is formed into a paste and rubbed on the body, turmeric may instead turn you as yellowish-orange as the powder itself. 

Ever wondered why the mustard in your refrigerator is yellow?  That’s turmeric.

It’s a rhizome - an underground stem - that has the same funny shape as ginger.  The reason why many cultures refer to turmeric as “yellow ginger”.  To get the chalky powder, the stem is boiled for hours, then dried, and finally ground up.

Originating from India, and used in everything from healing remedies to textile dyes, turmeric can be found in just about any Indian dish, adding its distinct flavour and colour to all the savoury curries, and everyone’s favorite tandoori chicken. 

What is the flavour?  The deep yellowish-orange color is so rich that your eyes will convince you what it tastes like before you even try it.  Instead, close your eyes and sprinkle a bit of the powder on your tongue.  It’s a little bitter, with the bite of ginger, and a hint of pepper and orange.

Place a bit more of the dry powder on your tongue and it may start to have a medicinal aftertaste. That’s the active ingredient, curcumin, an antioxidant shown to help fight Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, infections, and digestive problems.   

Pretty impressive for an underground stem that turns your mustard yellow.


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