I was recently lucky enough to spend a few weeks travelling in India, which is why I’ve not been able to post anything for the last few weeks. Its been over 10 years since I visited India and I have to say it was a delight to go back. I met so many interesting people. There are loads of things I could say about India, but the first thing I wanted to mention was this little plant … Tumeric.
Tumeric is a herbaceous perennial plant from the ginger family, it needs temperatures averaging 20 to 30 degrees to survive and thrive with a good deal of annual rainfall. It can be found in other countries including China, but its use is so common and widespread in India with such prevalent health benefits. So why mention tumeric ?
Tumeric is everywhere in India. It is used in copious amounts in every day cooking by many people. It is also one of the most commonly used herbs in Ayurvedic medicine.
Aside from giving a slightly bitter astringent taste to curry’s, tumeric also has the following properties when taken by human beings:
– Detoxify the liver
– Balance cholesterol levels
– Stimulate digestion
– Boost immunity
– Enhance the complexion
Tumeric is normally harvested in the form of a ‘rhizome’ which means ‘mass of roots’. Usually the root is dried in the sun and then ground to a powder, which is how most of us tend to recognise tumeric in our homes. It is particularly well known for its extra ordinary anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, this makes tumeric most suited for treatment of diseases related to digestion, arthritis and also in the prevention of cancer.
The root contains several antioxidant rich compounds, collectively known as curcuminoids, which provide much of this little roots collective health benefits. Due to its strong anti-inflammatory properties (and because inflammation can run amok) in a large number of disease processes, is why it is used so often in Ayurvedic medicine. The strongest evidence so far indicates that tumeric is most effective against arthrities, dyspepsia (stomach upset), ulcerative colities and irritable bowel syndrome.
Why not try this simple recipe for ‘Tofu Scramble’. Its a great way to use the herb, and this recipe is excellent for lunch or breakfast.
Ground turmeric gives this egg-free scramble a golden hue. Leftovers (if any ) make a great sandwich filling.
Egg Free Scramble
1 medium red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium sized onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground turmeric
1 14-oz. pkg. medium tofu, drained and crumbled
Handful of spinach leaves
½ tsp chilli powder
1. Heat large sauce pan over medium heat and coat lightly with vegetable oil. Add bell pepper and saute for about 7 minutes, or until just tender.
2. Stir in green onions, garlic, cumin, and turmeric and cook 1 minute more. Add tofu and chilli powder (or you can omit the chilli powder) if you prefer a non-spicy version, and cook 5 minutes, or until heated through and all liquid has cooked off. Finally add the spinach and cook for a further few minutes until the spinach starts to wilt.
I normally serve this with toast. Its great if you need something quick.
Based on what I learned in India, it is better to use tumeric regularly and in larger amounts to start to see the health benefits. We hope you enjoy this recipe and are able to take some time to learn more about the properties of this fantastic little plant.