Have you noticed the fresh turmeric in the Produce department? It’s possible that you’ve walked right by this humble little rhizome many times and never even noticed it. I’m here to urge you to take a second glance, and maybe even give it a try.
Why, you ask?
First off, it’s good for you. Like many nutritional supplements, it should be cautioned that the scientific jury is still out on the efficacy of turmeric. That said, it has been used medicinally and culinarily for thousands of years in India, and there is growing scientific evidence that turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has been shown in early studies to be an effective remedy for a multitude of ailments including osteoarthritis, bowel disorders such as IBS and Crohn’s, and stomach ulcers. There are also some early studies that indicate that turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties could be helpful in the healing process, such as recovery from surgery.
Even if you’re free from any of the above maladies, adding fresh turmeric to your diet may be a good way to maintain to your overall health. It is thought to be beneficial to all stages of digestion, as well as boost immunity.
With all of those health benefits, you might assume that turmeric couldn’t taste good. Believe it or not, it’s quite tasty—with a distinctive earthy, mildly spicy, pungent, and slightly bitter flavor that makes the dried stuff seem stale and flavorless in comparison. It is a close relative of ginger, and it looks similar on the outside—just a bit smaller. Once you cut into fresh turmeric, however, there’s no mistaking it for anything else—it has an intensely vibrant orange color that can stain anything it touches (including cutting boards, countertops, and clothing!).
So, how to incorporate this powerful ingredient into your culinary repertoire? A quick internet search will yield lots of recipes, but here are a few of my favorite simple ways to use turmeric in everyday cooking.
Haldi Doodh (Turmeric Milk)
This traditional Indian drink is my all time favorite way to enjoy fresh turmeric. It’s extremely warming, making it a lovely wintertime drink. I often enjoy a cup right before bed. Simply simmer grated turmeric in milk (dairy or non dairy) for a few minutes; take off the heat and steep for a few minutes, strain, add honey to taste and enjoy!
Add finely grated turmeric to cooked brown rice to give it a lovely color and added flavor dimension.
Stir Fries and Curries
Freshly grated turmeric is a wonderful addition to any stir fry or curry. I like to grate it on top right before serving (like you might use Parmesan cheese), for the freshest flavor.
Like ginger, small pieces of turmeric can be added to any smoothie.