Turmeric is made from the Zingiberaceae plant a member of the Ginger family. The rhizomes are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine for dyeing and to impart colour to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has a distinctly earthy slightly bitter slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell.
In medieval Europe turmeric became known as Indian Saffron since it was widely used as an alternative to the far more expensive saffron spice.
Erode a city in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu is the world’s largest producer and most important trading center of turmeric in Asia
Turmeric is widespread in Malaysia and grows wild in the forests.
Turmeric has become the key ingredient for many Malay dishes not only in curry but also in masak lemak rendang and many more.
In non-South Asian recipes turmeric is sometimes used as an agent to impart a rich custard-like yellow colour. It is used in canned beverages and baked products dairy products ice cream yogurt yellow cakes orange juice biscuits popcorn colour sweets cake icings cereals sauces gelatins etc. It is a significant ingredient in most commercial curry powders. Turmeric is mostly used in savory dishes as well as some sweet dishes such as the cake Sfouf.
Although usually used in its dried powdered form turmeric is also used fresh much like ginger. It has numerous uses in Far Eastern recipes such as fresh turmeric pickle (which contains large chunks of soft turmeric).
Turmeric is used as a food additive to protect food products from sunlight. The oleoresin is used for oil-containing products. The curcumin/polysorbate solution or curcumin powder dissolved in alcohol is used for water-containing products. Over-colouring such as in pickles relishes and mustard is sometimes used to compensate for fading.
Turmeric has been used to colour cheeses yogurt dry mixes salad dressings winter butter and margarine. Turmeric is also used to give a yellow colour to some prepared mustards canned chicken broths and other foods (often as a much cheaper replacement for saffron).
Turmeric is widely used as a spice in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. Momos (Nepali meat dumplings) a traditional dish in South Asia are spiced with turmeric. In South Africa turmeric is traditionally used to give boiled white rice a golden colour.
Turmeric has a growing reputation for its medicinal benefits. Turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, are now starting to be recognised by western science for its Anti-inflammatory & Brain Health benefits. Recents studies have shown that Turmeric can increase mental accuity and assists in the treatment of Arthritis.