Turmeric

drawing of turmeric

Turmeric

(CURCUMA LONGA)

The yellow-orange spice that delivers color and a warm, somewhat bitter flavor

Turmeric has a rich history as a mainstay spice on the Silk Road. It was used as both a seasoning agent and a coloring agent; even Marco Polo wrote about turmeric's ability to imbue color. In recorded history, it dates as far back as AD 700 in China and later in Africa. However, in the history of the last few thousand years, India has been thought of as turmeric's home.

Another thing that turmeric is famous for is its anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used in India and in indigenous cultures for its medicinal purposes throughout the centuries and recently has gained popularity in the west for the same reason. Nowadays, it isn't uncommon to see turmeric as an additive in smoothies or even turmeric lattes at specialty coffee shops. 

Flavor & Aroma

Turmeric famously has a bold color and strong flavor. In many cases, it is just used as a coloring agent (like in mustard, cheese, or sauce), but the bright scent and floral notes make it great for seasoning too. A lesser-known fact about turmeric is that there are actually two kinds. Madras is lighter in color and has warming sensations and a sweeter taste. Alleppey has a deep orange hue that's great for a coloring agent. At La Boite, we mix both kinds to get the benefits from each.

Origin

Native to South or Southeast Asia and cultivated mainly in India.

Harvest Season

The part of the turmeric plant that is used to make the spice is called the rhizome, which is the underground root of the plant. They are harvested about 8 months after being planted when the plant's lower leaves turn yellow. The plants are dug up and the rhizomes are separated, washed, and boiled. After this, they dry for two weeks before being polished and sold whole or ground.

Usage Ideas

1. For a refreshing smoothie, blend ground turmeric, ripe melon, yogurt, and honey.

2. Sprinkle ground turmeric into simmering chicken stock and use to cook whole new potatoes.

3. Whisk lemon juice with olive oil and ground turmeric for a colorful citrus dressing.

Other Pairings

Butternut squash velouté • Split pea purée • Braised veal shoulder • Roasted cauliflower • Blondies • Mustard

Recipes

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