What is Turmeric?
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a plant and it belongs to the ginger family. It is a native to Indonesia and southern India, where it has been harvested for more than 5,000 years.
The rhizome, from which the turmeric is derived, is tuberous, with a rough and segmented skin. The rhizomes mature beneath the foliage in the ground. They are yellowish brown with a dull orange interior. When the turmeric rhizome is dried, it can be ground to a yellow powder.
Avoid getting turmeric on your worktop and clothes as it is a very powerful dye and can stain quite easily.
Turmeric contains Vitamin B3, Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, Copper, Iron, Zinc and Curcuminoids.
It has a pungent, bitter flavour.
Preparation & Storage
Fresh turmeric should be wrapped in a paper bag and stored in the fridge for 2 -3 weeks. Ground turmeric powder should be stored in a cool dark place as it is highly susceptible to light.
Cooking with Turmeric
Turmeric is widely used in cooking and gives Indian curry its flavor and yellow colour. It is also used in Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine as well.
If you look at the recipe and feel that turmeric is only needed to add a yellow hue to the dish then you don’t really need to substitute it. You can simply leave it out. But if you feel you do require it for it’s flavour then you can substitute it for either ginger or cumin.
Where can I buy it?
If you are looking for fresh turmeric then try your local Indian or Asian supermarkets. Turmeric root is best when it has a clean and unwrinkled appearance; like ginger, turmeric root looks shriveled as it loses freshness. Turmeric in powder form can be found in most high street supermarkets.
(book source: Healing Foods; The complete guide to nutritional health)