When I read the word Turmeric, or when someone says it, immediately I’m transported to India or Pakistan to a world of spices, delicate piquant or peppery, curry flavors, and swirling air-infused aromas that stroke the senses with the promise of tangy tastes.
In a split second, I can see an Indian wedding where beautiful designs have been painted on the bride and groom using a turmeric mix. I think of the color, that flash of the sacred orange – ranging from a fairly bland pale mustardy orange to an exciting and mystical orange of the Japanese maple tree.
An entire journey in a couple of seconds and now, nothing’s the same.
India, Pakistan and the UK
Decades ago, I lived in London. In those days, I had Indian neighbors on one side, and Pakistani neighbors on the other side. We were all married, and all six of us knew each other and visited sporadically.
So, since I helped them perfect their Toad in the Hole and their Yorkshire Puddings, they taught me about curries and the difference between Indian curries and Pakistani curries.
I enjoy the occasional curry – if it’s made correctly. Oh, how I enjoyed those lessons – which involved everyone in the house getting involved in the magic in the kitchen or getting out of the way to drink beer in the lounge.
This was England, so no beer around the barbeque, no casserole on the barbeque – no barbeque, but fantastic curries in the kitchen and all very much magic carpet quality food being created with an oriental flair.
Looking back to those times, I feel particularly Blessed that I had those adventures that I can now look back on with warm nostalgia. Before I get all Hearts and Flowers here, let’s take a look at Turmeric.
What’s in a Name?
In the few curries I was taught in those days and the other curries I’ve learned over the years since those days, they all contained Turmeric. In England, we called it Turmeric, and in South Africa, it’s called Tumeric (i.e., without the first r), but I believe in the USA, it’s called Turmeric – and also in many other countries of the world.
It is actually harvested from a plant that grows in South Asia and is probably the main spice in every curry. It contains the most amazing medicinal qualities, and, as such, I feel I can’t write another word without mentioning those first before we continue.
So Many Uses
It’s used as an anti-inflammatory, for rheumatoid arthritis, itching, particular skin damage, depression, asthma, diabetes, joint pain, stress, bruising – and far too many other uses for me to mention here.
You already know that Turmeric is used as the main spice in curries and yet to taste it just as it is, leave you with a warm but bitter taste in your mouth. It’s only when you mix it with other appropriate spices that it comes alive and is almost the heart of the curry flavor.
However, here’s a bit of a wonder, it isn’t only used in curries and medications, it is often used to infuse flavor into mustards, into butters, and also into cheeses – now there’s a surprise!
Get To the Root of It All
The root of the Turmeric plant is extensively used to make medicines. Containing a sort of yellow colored chemical that is called curcumin, this is often used to color foods and also cosmetics.
When speaking of the many medicinal properties contained in curcumin, I must not forget to mention that it’s also used as an anti-inflammatory. Plus, it’s used as an antioxidant and an anti-aging agent – it has antiseptic properties, mainly due to the high curcumin content.
It has even been used for heartburn and bowel disease.
This plant is so useful, and it seems to have no boundaries!
Did you know that this most common spice called Turmeric, because it contained the pigments called curcuminoids, was widely used as a dye for the Buddhist monks’ robes?
Yet, as an example of how things change over the years and suddenly become ‘a new thing, or a popular item’, Read this:
Strange to relate, Turmeric is being used much, much more regularly, in Europe and the USA, to add an orange color to canned beverages and ice cream, yogurt, popcorn, and also breakfast cereal.
How amazing is that?? Turmeric was discovered centuries ago, and yet, uses for it are still being discovered!! Now that’s a switch!
Always Read the Labels
I always say to people they should read the labels of the products they intend to buy in the shop they intend to make the purchase. Of course, hypocrite that I am on my way home from work a few weeks ago; I quickly stopped off at a store to buy some Turmeric. I’d run out and wanted to make a curry.
Once I arrived home, I did read the label on the packet. I do know you’re supposed to do it the other way around and read the label while you’re still in the store, but I was in such a hurry that I only bought the Turmeric and didn’t even look around the store to see what else there was that I might need.
That sort of behavior is most unlike me, so you can understand that when I say I was in a hurry, I really didn’t have time to go into the shop in the first place!
Anyway, I read the label, and I saw some odd things there. It said something about a pot of gold at the end of my (the customer’s) rainbow. I thought that’s odd because usually when I send a WhatsApp to someone, I will add the emojis of a rainbow and a bag of gold – how’s that for a coincidence?! (I don’t believe in coincidences).
The label also said something about Golden Milk, which sounded quite nice, but, hey, I’m just buying some Turmeric here, but then it went on to mention the Spice of Life – now that made more sense considering what I know about this cure-all spice.
It all ended up being something you could mix (called Chai Tea) and add to your ‘morning smoothie’ and or your ‘morning scrambled eggs.’ Right at the end of the label, the address of their company beings with Dancing Leaf.
Now, do you mind, I’m trying to make a curry here. But I couldn’t. Not right then.
I sat down, still holding the package, and my mind rolled on with Dancing Leaves and Golden Milk, with the Spice of Life and the medicinal properties.
My imagination ran wild, and so did my memories of London and my two neighbors on either side of me; always friendly but always arguing the toss about whether or not Pakistani Curries were better than Indian Curries.
I think the Indian Curries won – but if I remember correctly it was by default, as we’d eaten all the Pakistani food, so had nothing for a comparison!
Anyone for Tea?
Rainbow Turmeric Chai Tea is really a tea that you can make – if you read the instructions – which apparently hails from Australia (or that’s one of its sources).
Then there’s Rainbow Turmeric Organic Rooibos Chair Tea Bags! Now they sound like they’ve been around the world and back again!
Rainbow Turmeric – A Little Miracle
How often over the decades have I picked up a little jar of innocent-looking Turmeric never realizing I was holding one of the most magnificent healing spices in my hands.
There’s no telling how little I knew about it in the past – just a spice invaluable for curries and skin painting.
I’m so glad this time I bought one in a box, that raised my curiosity so much that I Googled Rainbow Turmeric – and there you have it – or rather, I have it, and the rest you should go and get some because everyone should have a little miracle on your kitchen shelves!