„Spice of Life“
Hardly any other spice is ascribed so many healing properties – “turmeric” or “Indian saffron” are just two of the many names for this multi-purpose superfood.
But what are the actual benefits of turmeric root and how is the spice best used at home?
Origin of the root and its way to Europe
Turmeric grows as a rhizome of the plant of the same name, which can reach a height of up to one metre and belongs to the ginger root family. When in bloom, it shines in rich pink or white and thus does not give any hint of the bright yellow colour of the root under the ground. In a figurative sense, however, the “turmeric” has its roots in Southeast Asia or India, which is also considered the largest cultivation area and where the highest proportion of consumers can be found. Turmeric found its way to Europe in the 13th century, when Marco Polo first described a “fruit similar to saffron”. In India and China, the root has been used for cooking and medicine for over 5,000 years.
In Indonesia, especially on the Hindu island of Bali, it still serves a religious purpose today. A frequent offering is the so-called Nasi Kuning (yellow rice), which is formed into a cone with the help of a banana leaf. But turmeric is also an important ingredient for colour and taste in traditional nasi goreng.
Turmeric as a miracle cure in medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine and in the Indian Ayurveda medicine, the yellow root is said to have numerous healing effects. Besides positive effects on digestion, respiratory tract and joints, it is even used to cure liver diseases and diabetes.
However, verifiable effects could be proven especially with regard to digestion and the root’s anti-inflammatory active ingredients. On the one hand, turmeric promotes fat metabolism and thus has a positive effect on digestion. On the other, the curcumin contained in the root inhibits the formation of inflammatory messenger substances in the cells and thus counteracts the degradation of joint cartilage.
Turmeric as a spice for cooking
For the use of turmeric at home, powder or the root are usually used. As with ginger, the root is usually simply peeled and finely grated. When using organic roots, the peel can also be used. Tip from the kitchen: If you prefer to work with the peeled product, you can simply scrape the peel off with a spoon.
Turmeric can also be used as a paste for curry or the so-called “golden milk”. Producing the paste, it is mixed with water and reduced until it becomes a thick paste that can be stored in the refrigerator. Incidentally, the spice is best absorbed into the bloodstream in combination with black pepper and also tastes great as a tea.
And if you now feel like travelling to India, don’t forget your visa.