Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. Fresh turmeric comes in finger-sized pieces of root, has bright orange flesh, and tastes slightly bitter and earthy. While the powdered form is a very good substitute, there is nothing like using the fresh version if you can find it.
Some places that stock it, here in Barcelona, are the Boquería market and Veritas. Generally, the powdered version is used in our cooking, both for its colour and health benefits. It doesn’t add much flavour, so you only need very little. If you add too much, it will make your dish taste bitter.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is a terrific antioxidant and antiseptic, and boosts the immune system. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and is popular amongst those with arthritis and joint issues. Furthermore, it is used for headaches, bronchitis, colds and lung infections. Studies show, that it can help fight cancer, kidney problems and even Alzheimer’s disease!
Turmeric can be made into a paste with water, honey or yoghurt, to make a skin scrub that soothes inflammation and helps stop acne. It can also be rubbed onto wounds to help accelerate the healing process. It is wonderful in all kinds of Indian dishes, roasted vegetables, sauces and soups, even to just add a natural hint of sunshine colour, and you can also infuse it in hot water to make a soothing tea.
Put the powdered version in an air-tight container and store in a cool dark place. It keeps for up to one year. Freeze the fresh version, to preserve it. Be careful when using this spice as it stains absolutely everything, and can be difficult to remove.