Super Spice Turmeric

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Turmeric

Turmeric powder is a spice that not only adds a wonderful flavour to foods but it also gives a beautiful depth of colour – to materials, too, and even your hands if you’re not careful! Turmeric is native to South Asia and part of the ginger family of plants. The brightly coloured powder we know as turmeric is made from a section between the root and the stem of the plant called the rhizome. It is ground to form a powder which is used, as we said, as a spice and natural food colouring 1.

Turmeric as a Dye

The origins of turmeric spice goes back thousands of years, some say 10,000 where it was first used in India as a dye. Today it is still used to dye the robes of Buddhist monks and their vibrant orange a true reflection of the strong colour of the flesh of the turmeric root.

In foods turmeric can give a mustard-like yellow colour to orange juice, cereals, sauces, biscuits and cakes. I never cease to be amazed at watching the transformation when I add a teaspoon to a homemade dish, such as a curry, as the ingredients become enriched with colour and so much more inviting.

Turmeric, Curcumin and Health

The active ingredient in turmeric, a natural botanical product, is curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. You can maximise the health benefits of curcumin by taking turmeric along with black pepper.

The benefits of turmeric have been well documented over the years and it is a major part of Siddha medicine, the oldest medicine known to mankind.

It has antimicrobial properties, along with also being antibacterial, antifungal and an antioxidant. Because of this, many people today turn to adding turmeric into their skincare regime. Mixing the spice into a face mask is a favourite for us at Lucy Bee but to make sure it doesn’t stain our skin, we’ve added yoghurt to it – if you try this, I’d recommend testing it on a small area first….just in case!.

Turmeric is also a wonderful, natural source of fibre, potassium and iron.

‘Indian Saffron’

Turmeric is widely known as ‘Indian Saffron’ as it mirrors many of the same benefits though is much less expensive.

In 1280 AD, Marco Polo  recorded information on turmeric in his diary:

There is also a vegetable which has all the properties of true saffron, as well the smell and the color, and yet it is not really saffron.”

It is a cousin of the ginger root and the family resemblance is obvious with its tough brown skin. Turmeric though is a thinner root with an orange flesh and has a fragrance reminiscent of orange and ginger with a slightly peppery taste. If you’re buying the fresh root, it should be stored in the fridge whilst the powdered variety is at home in a sealed container in a cupboard.

Recipe Ideas

The main producers of this spice are India, China, the Philippines and Taiwan, which probably comes as no surprise when you think of their traditional dishes – bursting with colour and flavours! Our Lucy Bee Turmeric Powder is native to the Kerala region of India and is grown by local farmers who are trained in sustainable, organic farming methods.

South Asian and Middle Eastern dishes widely use this spice and it beautifully complements any lentil recipe. We love this tarka dal recipe, it’s inexpensive, delicious and healthy – the perfect comfort food supper:

Dhal with Cinnamon and Lucy Bee Turmeric

Dhal

Ingredients

250g split red lentils

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp. Lucy Bee Turmeric Powder

1 tin of coconut milk

2 tbsp. Lucy Bee Coconut Oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. mustard seeds

A large handful of spinach

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

Pinch of Lucy Bee Himalayan Salt

Method

Place the lentils in a large saucepan with 1 litre of water, the cinnamon stick and Lucy Bee Turmeric Powder and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked.

Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until it thickens, then remove from the heat.

In a separate pan, melt the Lucy Bee Coconut Oil and sauté the onion until soft before adding the garlic and ginger for a further few minutes.

Add the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds. Place a lid over and gently sauté until the mustard seeds stop popping.

Add the spinach and tinned tomatoes, stir well and simmer for a further few minutes, allowing the flavours to blend together.

Pour this spinach /tomato mixture into the dhal, stir well and season with Lucy Bee Himalayan Salt.

Spiced Brown Rice

Turmeric Brown Rice

Ingredients:

75g brown rice

150ml water

Small handful of cashew nuts

1 tsp. Lucy Bee Turmeric Powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

Chopped parsley to serve

Method:

Place the rice, water and spices into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes until the rice is cooked.

Add the cashew nuts and parsley. Stir and you’re ready to serve.

Can be eaten on its own for a light lunch or makes a great accompaniment to fish or chicken.

Colourful Curry Sauce

This is a real favourite in our house and is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe. I’d recommend you make extra as it freezes well and works equally well with chicken or vegetables.

Curry Sauce Ingredients

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. Lucy Bee Coconut Oil

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1 tsp. fenugreek seeds

1 handful of curry leaves

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated or 2 tsp. of powdered ginger

2 onions sliced

1 tsp. chilli powder

1 tsp. Lucy Bee Turmeric Powder

1 tin chopped tomatoes or 6 large, fresh tomatoes

1 tin coconut milk

 Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 C

Melt the Lucy Bee Coconut Oil in a large casserole type dish then add the mustard seeds and fenugreek. Keep the lid on until the mustard seeds have all popped!

Add the curry leaves, ginger, onions, chilli powder and turmeric and stir together. Gently sauté until the onions are soft.

Pour in the tin of tomatoes and coconut milk. At this stage you can add your choice of chicken or vegetables.

If using chicken, it’s a good idea to cut it into bite size pieces and brown in a frying pan before adding to the sauce.

Pop the curry into the oven to cook slowly for approx 55 minutes. This allows the spices to work their magic and become infused into the other ingredients. The flavour is enhanced if you make this the day before and gently heat in a low oven, for an hour before serving.

Others ways to include powdered turmeric in your diet include adding a teaspoon to your favourite salad dressing or rub it onto vegetables then either roast or sauté them in Lucy Bee. Alternatively you could juice the root with any vegetable juice that you’re making.

Turmeric Powder – A Top Tip

If you do get any turmeric on your hands and they’re stained, try rubbing lemon juice into your hands – it should do the trick!

References:

  1. Khajehdehi (2012) Turmeric: Reemerging of a neglected Asian traditional remedy.

 

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About Lucy Bee Limited

Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.

Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.

 

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Petrina is a friend of Lucy Bee and advocates a healthy lifestyle. Having used coconut oil for over 10 years is a firm believer in its numerous benefits and uses.