Turmeric - A Cooking Ingredient In Indian Cuisine
Turmeric is produced from the root of a plant whose scientific name is Curcuma longa. Raw turmeric has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. It has a very interesting taste and aroma. Its flavor is slightly peppery and a little bitter while its aroma is mild yet slightly resonant of orange and ginger.
Turmeric is native to Indian subcontinent and Indonesia, where it has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. It plays an important role in many traditional cultures throughout India; it is used as an ingredient in the Indian cuisine as well as it is an important member of the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. It is believed that Arab traders introduced it into Europe in the 13th century; it has only recently become popular in Western cultures. Much of its recent popularity is due to the recent research that has highlighted its therapeutic properties. The leading commercial producers of turmeric are India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Haiti and Jamaica.
Use of turmeric as a cooking ingredient
In almost all the Indian recipes except the dessert turmeric is a must use ingredient. It gives the curry an attractive yellow look and a good taste. But you have to be careful while using this ingredient; too much of turmeric might destroy the taste!
Turmeric is also used as a marinating agent for fish and meat in all Indian kitchens. Storing raw fish and raw meat in the refrigerator for a long period Indians marinate those with turmeric and salt.
Use of turmeric as cosmetic
Turmeric is currently used in the preparation of some sunscreen cream and lotions. Turmeric paste is widely used by Indian women to keep their skin free from bacterial attack. It is also a custom for Indian Hindus to apply turmeric paste to bride, groom and their family members before the marriage. Turmeric is also used in religious rituals of Hindus in India.
Use of turmeric as an herbal medicine
Turmeric is well known for its antiseptic property and being used by Indians throughout the history as an antiseptic herbal medicine. Turmeric mixed with a glass of water is used for the rapid recovery of injury. Physical application of turmeric paste on the injury has also been proved to be helpful in curing the injury.
The yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric and responsible for plenty of diseases. Following are a few lists of diseases which could be treated or prevented by using turmeric:
Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Curcumin might provide an effective but inexpensive treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.
Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis
It has been known that curcumin also exerts very powerful antioxidant effects. As an antioxidant, curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals as well as the chemicals that could damage the healthy cells and cell membranes. As the free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints in case of arthritis, regular use of turmeric might reduce the risk of arthritis.
Curcumin's antioxidant actions enable it to protect the colon cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA-a significant benefit particularly in the colon where cell turnover is quite rapid, occurring approximately every three days. Curcumin enhances liver function, inhibited the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation and preventing the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth.
Use of turmeric as dye
Turmeric is a natural dye and being used as fabric dye in India. It is also used as dye in the traditional paintings where no chemical dye is normally used.
Turmeric Teams Up with Cauliflower to Halt Prostate Cancer
It is now believed that the combination of cruciferous vegetables (A vegetable of the mustard family especially mustard greens, various cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts) and curcumin could be an effective therapy not only to prevent prostate cancer, but to inhibit the spread of established prostate cancers.
Turmeric is also believed to be responsible for reducing the risk of Childhood Leukemia, improving Liver Function, protection against cardiovascular diseases, lowering Cholesterol and protection against Alzheimer's disease.
Some tips for selecting and storing
Although it is widely available in supermarkets it is advisable to collect it from the local spice stores or ethnic markets in your area. These products are of superior quality and freshness than those available in supermarkets
Turmeric powder should be kept in a container with a tight lid. Raw and fresh turmeric having a soft flesh must be kept in the refrigerator.