© Denzil Green
Turmeric, a member of the ginger family, grows as an underground stem, just like ginger, only in smaller, thinner pieces. It has a very mild flavour, tasting faintly like a mix of ginger and pepper. But it is used more for the colour that it gives to dishes (and to fingers, clothes and worktop surfaces), which is a brilliant yellow.
India produces most of the Turmeric in the world, and 80% of what it produces gets used inside the country. Turmeric is used in India almost as commonly as we would use ground pepper. Turmeric is also present on the daily tables of North America; they just don’t know it: it’s what is used to make North American mustard that neon yellow.
Turmeric is sold as a yellow-orange powder. It can be used as a substitute for the vastly more expensive saffron, though the taste is quite different, of course.
Fresh Turmeric is orange; it turns yellow when dried.
Keep Turmeric off clothing as it will stain. Turmeric should be added early in the cooking process, so that its flavour mellows and becomes a bit less harsh.
Peel the fresh Turmeric before using. When peeled, grind in a blender with a little water.
1 inch / 2.5 cm piece of fresh = 1/2 teaspoon dried, ground.
Store in a dark place as Turmeric is very sensitive to light (e.g. a glass spice jar on a shelf is just about the worst place for it.)
Turmeric is native to Asia; it has been cultivated in India for more than 4000 years.
Called “Kunyit” in Indonesian.