Friday, February 13, 2009

Try Something New: Turmeric

I admit to getting a bit steamed when someone says they don't like Indian food because they don't like the flavor of "curry powder." I don't think curry powder turns up even once as an ingredient in any Indian recipe I've ever seen or made. Curry (kari in the southern Indian language Tamil) simply means sauce . I love Indian food, I mean really love. I'm making Murgh Makhani with brown basmati rice flavored with cardamom, saffron and turmeric this evening. The chicken has been marinating over night and we're really looking forward to it.

Turmeric is bright, bold yellow and smells really warm and earthy. It tastes slightly peppery and very pleasant. I love how it makes the rice such a gorgeous color. It makes me forget I'm eating brown rice. And it's not just for Indian food, you'll find turmeric used in Morroccan cuisine as well as Spanish, Thai and Middle Eastern. You can even add it to chicken and egg salad to plus the flavor and nutrition of everyday lunch fare.

I've been reading a lot about the health benefits of turmeric recently which has prompted me to get out my Indian cookbook more often. One benefit that really piqued my interest is that the incidence of Alzheimer's disease in the elderly population in India is very low. Scientific studies show that that the active compound curcumin slowed the progression of the disease in mice but still have yet to figure out why. Working in nursing homes for the past 15 years, I've seen the disease all too often to take this information lightly.

The list of other health benefits of turmeric is massive. World's Healthiest Foods has all the details. Give it a read and then get your turmeric out and start cooking.


  1. My father-in-law stopped in yesterday en route home from a visit to his parents in Florida - he's very concerned about the possibility of Alzheimer's in his future, as his elderly mother is suffering from it. He mentioned that he'd heard that "Indian food can help prevent Alzheimer's" and asked me to help him find more info since he is internet challenged. So I am very tickled that you posted about this!

    Now, I don't know that they will be converted to eating spicy Indian food, you know his favorite meal is meatloaf with canned corn on the side. ;-)

    I do think packaged curry powder is nasty - and the one Indian "flavor" I really don't like is yellow curry, so I think that I might not like turmeric. But I am getting a little more adventuresome these days! You are a good influence.

  2. I actually take Turmeric capsules daily for my arthritic knees. It's a powerful antiinflammatory. Great stuff (and I LOVE Indian food too!)

  3. Donna,
    Turmeric is not "hot" at all. It's a very mild spice. Have your in-laws try it mixed in with the meat for the loaf or in egg salad. They probably won't even know it's there.

    I hope the turmeric helps, I know from your posts that your knees give you terrible trouble. Have you tried pycogenol for the pain? It's meant to be very good for the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

  4. Here here! I'm SO glad that I'm not the only American that knows this about "curry spice". My husband is from India so I do ALOT of Indian cooking and I have NEVER used curry powder. :)
    About turmeric...the only thing I don't like about it is that it stains...everything!
    I found your blog through google, I have you bookmarked, I'll be back!

  5. Twinz mama, thanks for stopping by to read. The sweatshirt I wear around the house when I cook in winter has yellow stains at the sleeves from the turmeric. It's so worth it, though.