Turmeric: The Talk of The Town

In a world with a raging pandemic, there is also a turmeric pandemic. Everywhere we turn, there is a burst of golden yellow in store windows. Turmeric smoothies, turmeric juice, turmeric curries, turmeric tea, turmeric chicken, turmeric tofu, turmeric soup, turmeric eggs, turmeric bread, turmeric pancakes, and even turmeric dog food. Modern Americans will do anything with this flavorful golden substance, but none of those uses align with its use in India. India has always had a long and rich history of spices. Spices like turmeric, mustard, coriander, cumin, and even black pepper were cultivated and popularized in India by various dishes and outside India by the 15th-century silk trade and centuries of European colonization. Not only do these spices, especially turmeric, have incredible nutty, spicy, peppery, earthy flavors, but they can also be used in temples and in medicines.

Turmeric has been the story of my childhood. Memories of grandparents, memories of when I was ill all come rushing back when I think of turmeric. Although sickness does not necessarily kindle fond memories, the amount I learned about my culture while I was sick, and specifically turmeric is astounding. My mom would always tell me various stories as she made turmeric latte When any of us were sick in the family, my mom would always have ready to go, turmeric latte, or as I call it, mangapaal (yellow milk), the most effective remedy for fever, sore throat, stomachache. We make it with pepper, giving you a sharp kick in the back of the throat with every sip. The aromatic ginger-like quality of the turmeric is so satisfying to sip when piping hot. This is not just a remedy in my family, but in all of India. Because of the various risks of modern medicine, with its relative newness, Indians have continued to use solutions they trust, like natural remedies. Even one of the largest medical corporations, the Himalaya Drug Company, only offers natural resources to treat various conditions. 

The rich history of turmeric is a story widely spread in India, but even after its grand entrance into American culture, people have not yet realized the true wonders of turmeric. With its a gorgeous bright golden color, turmeric root can brighten up a monotone dish or…..

In fact, turmeric has actual spiritual properties, and it can be used in offerings for various deities. Growing up and going to temples, I always asked my parents what the orange color strewn across the temple was, and the answer was always: turmeric. 

Turmeric Latte

– 1 cup milk

– ¼ cup almond milk

– 1 ½ teaspoon turmeric

– ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder 

– 1 teaspoon of palm sugar or honey (add more for a sweet tooth)

How to Make:

– Bring milk to a boil and add the turmeric powder, black pepper, and sugar or honey. 

– Filter out granules with a strainer and enjoy.

Another recipe that comes to mind when I think about turmeric is the lemon turmeric rice that is ubiquitous in India. This is a dish that I have had all my life made by temples, grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles. 

Lemon Turmeric Rice Recipe

Recipe:

– 1 Lemon

– 1 ½ teaspoon turmeric powder

– 3 tablespoons peanuts

– 1 teaspoon  mustard seeds 

– 3 serrano chilies

– 3 cups cooked rice (1 cup uncooked rice)

– 1 teaspoon canola oil or vegetable oil

– 5 to 6 curry leaves

– 1-inch slice of ginger grated finely or thoroughly minced

How to Make:

  • In a non-stick pan, wok, or Kadai, heat up one teaspoon of oil. 
  • Put the indian mustard seeds in the pan of your choice until the oil and mustard seeds begin to crackle and then put in your chilis, ginger, peanuts, turmeric, and curry leaves. 
  • Sporadically stir this mixture for 2-3 minutes 
  • Switch off the stove and pour the juice of 1 lemon into the spice mixture.
  • Add your cooked rice and mix until everything is combined

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