Winter has just set in, in the Mother City and I am reminded by all the sniffling around me that it is the perfect time to boost the metabolism and start cooking some good ol’ hearty curries with exceeding amounts of medicinal herbs thrown in the mix. there is one medicinal herb in particular that I would like to emphasize on. It is an ancient Indian medicinal herb, Turmeric.
In India, ayurveda therapy often includes turmeric to help cleanse the body. They call it “haldi” and use it to clean the blood and stomach. The turmeric plant is truly exquisite looking. It produces usually a yellow flower but can contain other colours such as magenta or purple. The flower is often used in ceremonies throughout India and Bangladesh but it is the stalk of the plant that contains most of the medicinal properties, spice and colour. It belongs to the same family as the ginger plant, Zingiberaceae, and can grow up to three feet tall.
Turmeric has been used for over ten thousand years as a medicial plant. It is known to slow down and prevent many diseases, such as cancer, arthritis, jaundice and certain skin diseases. On wounds it is used raw as an anti-bacterial and can also be used as an anti-inflammatory. Overall, this plant is great to include in ones diet.
The first two uses of turmeric in India where to cleanse the body as well as use it to dye cloth and the robes of the buddhist monks. It was then included in pujas , gaye haloud or as a thali necklace in weddings.
The use of turmeric eventually spread across South Asia and gradually further into many parts of the world today. In Vietnam, turmeric is called “củ nghệ” and is commonly used as a spice to colour foods and enhance the flavours of foods like soup and stir fry.
To produce powdered turmeric one has to first boil it for several hours and then dry it out in a hot oven. Once the turmeric is completely dry it is then ready to be ground up and crushed into powder and used or packaged accordingly.
Turmeric is a magical herb to include in your diet. Not only is it tasty and delish smelling, it is also great for your overall health. I really hope this has inspired you to go out and stock up on turmeric powder or maybe even plant your own. In the next few days I will be posting a few recipes ranging from turmeric milk to healing soups and curries, so keep a look out and let me know if you have any recipes of your own that you would like to share.