Is it just me, or is everyone else's Facebook feed dominated with posts about drinking tumeric tea? I'm not kidding, my friends are REALLY into the stuff. The way people talk about it, you'd think turmeric had superpowers that help you fly and poo rainbows. That's a lot to ask of a spice -- but turmeric has a big personality. It's hella yellow, as those of you who've cooked with it can tell you. But what else? I looked into the secrets of tumeric, and now I can tell you what all the fuss is about.
Tumeric the spice comes from a root known as Curcuma aromatica, Curcuma domestica, Curcumae longa, or Curcumae Longae Rhizoma (not to be confused with Javanese turmeric root). Its main ingredient, curcuma, is what powers its health benefits. You can use the dried powder, but it's most potent fresh, grated right from the root if you can find it. (Just like with ginger -- look for it at health food stores.) And it's fat soluble, so you'll absorb more of its nutrient properties if you have it with a little bit of "good" fat, like coconut oil.
Fans say turmeric can serve as an antioxidant that helps block the growth of cancers in the neck and head. It can help alleviate joint pain and arthritis and is anti-inflammatory. It can also help with tummy troubles, everything from heartburn to stomach pain. Some say it helps with headaches, depression, and lung infections. WebMD points out that there's evidence for the claims to turmeric aiding stomach problems and joint pain. As for the rest of the benefits, more research is needed to verify those. On the other hand, there aren't really any side effects (unless you're taking the stuff in huge doses), so it doesn't hurt to experiment in moderation.
Tea: So about that tea I've heard so much about ... Dr. Weil's spiel on tumeric tea keeps it really simple. But if you want a recipe with fat, try Dr. Sanjay Gupta's calming, creamy turmeric tea recipe made with almond milk, cinnamon, honey, and ginger. I've seen more or less the same recipe only with coconut milk instead of almond, and that sounds heavenly.
Curry: This is another easy way to get your turmeric. Just google "turmeric curry recipe" and you'll get tons. But if you're looking for an easy place to start, try this curried potatoes with cauliflower and peas recipe.
Pasta: This sesame yogurt pasta salad from 101 Cookbooks looks tasty.
Just grate: Try grating fresh turmeric over anything -- salads, soups, yogurt, anything else you can think of.
Have you ever tried turmeric tea?
Image via Steven Jackson/Flickr