What is turmeric and where does it come from?
Turmeric is extracted from the rhizome of a plant growing in Java, India and China. Meanwhile, however, there are many other countries that produce turmeric. Egypt, for example, but also Costa Rica. It belongs to the same family as ginger, galangal and cardamom. It contains an intense yellow dye, which is used in some countries to dye fabrics. In German, it is therefore also called «yellow root».
It is an important component of the curry mixture
The more yellow a curry is, the more turmeric it contains. In Europe, it gives colour and flavour to Worcester sauce and mustard. It can also be found in the “Aromat” (typical Swiss spice mixture). You can use it for salad dressings, soups and rice. But also for chicken or even in breakfast muesli. Its taste is slightly bitter and the smell is earthy.
During a cooking course in Sri Lanka, we used it mainly because of its colour. For example, to highlight the colour of carrots. Or to improve the colour of lentils cooked with coconut milk.
Because it is difficult to grind, you will usually find dried, ground turmeric in shops. Sometimes you can also find it fresh at the wholesaler – but beware – it will turn your fingers a nice orange-yellow.
A much darker turmeric is produced in Costa Rica. It’s brown rather than yellow.
In certain countries, for example in India, it is also called Indian saffron
However, the only thing it has in common with saffron is the colour. The taste is not the same and the price is certainly very different.
In Europe you can find ornamental turmeric plants, their flowers are of a beautiful lilac colour.
But as I said, they are only decorative. If you want to grow it yourself in the garden to eat, look for a tuber with small roots beginning to grow or let a tuber germinate at home. You then put it into the soil and with a little luck, it will grow and form new rhizomes.
Is turmeric good for your health?
Nowadays we read a lot about the many positive health properties of turmeric.
Among other things, it is said to help with arthrosis, inflammation and gastrointestinal problems. In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric has been known as a remedy for thousands of years.
Turmeric can also be bought in capsules if you only want it for your health.
It’s also the main component of golden milk. Hence the name. It gives the milk its beautiful golden colour.
For me, a dish with a lot of turmeric in it is always a little sun on the plate.