Alamelu Vairavan, a Whitefish Bay resident, is an author and culinary instructor. Alamelu has a passion for educating the public about the use of spices and legumes in preparing healthy and tasty foods. She is also interested in educating the public about the growing research that points to the enormous health benefits of spices in preventing many diseases. Her mission is to enrich people's culinary experience and to inspire them to discover that cooking and sharing healthful foods can be an especially joyful experience.
Visit Alamelu's web site, CurryOnWheels.com.
The Wonder Spice – Turmeric
(How to use this amazing spice in every day cooking)
By Author Alamelu Vairavan
Turmeric is considered as an auspicious spice in India. Turmeric brings flavor and color to food. The golden spice, mostly grown in India, is valued for its power to bring beauty, good health and good luck to those who use it. Turmeric has been used for centuries as a curative and cleansing agent in India.
Recently turmeric has gained a
lot of attention in the US for its potential health benefits. Traditionally
turmeric has been considered as a good digestive aid and it is known to lower
the incidence of certain cancers. Current research suggests “turmeric” may help
prevent arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer and a host of other diseases. (USA Today
1/8/07; Men’s Health, June 2008) The National Institute of Health has funded at
least eight studies investigating the health benefits of turmeric. The spice
and a chemical it contains, “curcumin”, are being investigated for their
potential to prevent and treat a broad range of diseases including cancer,
cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s and arthritis. The rate of Alzheimer’s in India is
about four times lower than in the USA, says Gregory Cole, a researcher at the
What is turmeric? Turmeric is a root of the tropical perennial herb of the ginger family. The root spice is dried, powdered and is used in every day Indian cooking. It is a primary ingredient in curry powder.
Color & Taste: The intense yellow-orange colored spice is beautiful and is also referred to as “Indian gold”. Curcumin is an active ingredient found in turmeric. On its own it has an earthy, dry taste. Cooking with turmeric enhances the taste, flavor and color of the food.
Where to buy turmeric? Turmeric powder is available in regular grocery stores in the spice isle. A small bottle of turmeric sells from 0.99 cents. A 10.5oz. bottle sells for $3.50. Turmeric has a long shelf life.
How to use it? Turmeric,
as we have mentioned earlier, is commonly used in curry recipes. Here are some
simple ways to use it: When making an omelet or scrambled eggs, use ¼ teaspoon
of turmeric for each egg; or with any marinade use ¼ to ¾ teaspoon of
Alamelu’s advice: You don’t have to wait to get turmeric as supplements. You can use turmeric powder inexpensively in its natural form in every day cooking.
Seasoned Yogurt Salad with Onion and Tomatoes
(Seasoned yogurt salad is a refreshing accompaniment to any meal)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
1-teaspoon canola oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped tomatoes
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup plain non-fat yogurt
- Place oil in saucepan over medium hot. When oil is hot, but not smoking add cumin seeds. Let the seeds brown for a second or two.
- Add chopped onion and tomato. Stir-fry for a few minutes until onions are translucent.
- Add turmeric and cayenne powder and cook for a few minutes. Add salt and stir.
- Transfer ingredients from saucepan to a mixing bowl. Cool and blend in yogurt.