Turmeric is a spice derived from the roots of the flowering perennial, herbaceous, and rhizomatous plant known as Curcuma longa, which is part of the ginger family of Zingiberaceae.
The rhizome part of the plant gets boiled, dried, and ground to give the orange-yellow spice of turmeric that acts as a flavoring and coloring agent in numerous cuisines.
Applications of Turmeric as a Spice
Turmeric has a bitter and warm flavor that is almost similar to that of black pepper. It proffers a mustard-like and earthy aroma to the food it gets added to, along with a noticeable yellow color. The hue primarily comes from a unique component in the spice known as curcumin.
Turmeric powder finds application predominately in the intense Middle Eastern and Asian dishes. These can include meat, fish, and even vegetable curries and gravies. It mostly gets used in savory cuisine but can also get added to sweet foods like cake sfouf. The spice gets added to various types and kinds of biscuits, yogurts, canned beverages, popcorn, sauces, and cereals, either for the color or the taste. Other foodstuffs where the spice enhances the flavor comprise gelatin, orange juice, ice cream, baked goods, and dairy products.
Turmeric spice is an essential ingredient and component in gravy and curry powders. Different types of khoresh recipes of Iranian origin use turmeric along with oil-caramelized onions. Ras elhanout, the Moroccan spice mix, and garam masala, the Indian spice blend, include it as constituents.
In the South African dish geelrys or yellow rice, turmeric gives the boiled rice its rich golden color. The same application works for and in the Indian biryani. In Vietnamese gastronomy, it enhances the flavor and aroma of food like mìQuảng, bánh khọt, and bánh xèo.
In Cambodia, the spice gets used in the curry paste called kroeung and in fish amok. In dishes originating from the Philippines, turmeric finds function in the preparation of Satay and Kuning.
In Thailand, turmeric soup and yellow curry are two everyday dishes where turmeric gets used. It also gets used in the marination of meat and fish products. Turmeric latte or hot milk is a hot beverage made with turmeric spice and milk.
Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is a spice that comes with and proffers numerous advantageous effects on the body. That is why it gets used in Ayurvedic medicines. A few of its health benefits include the following:
- Antioxidant and Bacterial Properties: Turmeric protects the body from most diseases and carcinogenic ailments. It does so through its oxidative and antibacterial capabilities. The spice prevents the development of inflammations, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other degenerative conditions.
- Brain Booster: Turmeric can enhance the production and functioning of the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor or (BDNF), which plays a vital role in learning, eating, body weight, drinking, and memory. It prevents Alzheimer’s diseases and depression that result from decreased BDNF levels. It can even delay age-related issues and disorders and improve attention span, concentration, and memory.
- Heart Diseases: The spice can help maintain a healthy heart by enhancing the working and function of the inner lining of the arteries and veins, known as the endothelium. It also aids in regulating blood clotting and blood pressure.
- Cancer: The curcumin component of turmeric acts as a wonder herb in the treatment of cancer. It can slow down the growth and metastasizes of the tumor cells and contribute to their death.
- Arthritis: Arthritis is an ailment that leads to the inflammation and swelling of the joints. Turmeric, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, can help treat or improve the symptoms of the condition.
- Depression: Turmeric acts as an effective antidepressant by stimulating the brain. It also aids in the treatment of associated disorders such as anxiety, tension, and distrust.
- Aging: Curcumin of turmeric has antiaging properties along with high oxidative capacities. They help destroy old cells and speed up the growth and development of new ones. With the prevention of inflammation added to it, turmeric spice helps keep a youthful and fresh look on the skin.
Harvest Area and Season
The turmeric plant can thrive in various tropical conditions at an elevation or altitude of about 1500m above mean sea level. It requires a temperature range of approximately 20-35 degrees Celsius and around 150cm or more of annual rainfall. It can also grow under carefully controlled irrigated conditions.
The plant can grow on multiple types of soils. Nevertheless, it thrives the best in clay loam or sandy loam soils. Both of them are well-drained with suitable organic status and with a 4.5-7.5 pH range. Turmeric gets planted during the months of monsoon showers, namely the period between April-May.
The harvest period comes 7-9 months after the plantation, making the time to be around January-March. It gets implied and indicated by the lush rhizomes of the plant.