Turmeric (Curcuma longa) or kunyit, or yellow ginger or jiang huang (Chinese) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, a native to tropical South Asia. It needs temperatures between 20 and 30 deg. C. and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive. It is grown as a backyard home crop in Sarawak especially in the kampong or longhouses. A housewife can easily dig a root up for her dishes which require a inch or two of tumeric.
It is the most important ingredient for curries because it gives the golden yellow colour. Its rhizomes are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian cuisine, for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has an earthy, bitter, peppery flavor and has a mustardy smell.
It is well known that turmeric powder is used extensively in Indian cuisine.
Commercially packaged turmeric powder is sometimes used as a coloring agent. It has found application in canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes orange juice, biscuits, popcorn-color, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces, gelatins, etc. It is a significant ingredient in most commercial curry powders.
Turmeric has been used to color cheeses, yogurt, dry mixes, salad dressings, winter butter and margarine and is is also used to give a yellow color to some prepared mustards, canned chicken broths and other foods (often as a much cheaper replacement for saffron).
Most recently, it is made very popular by the interest in Ayurvedic medicine
In many parts of India and Aisa it is used as a readily available antiseptic for cuts, burns and bruises. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine say it has fluoride which is thought to be essential for teeth. It is also used as an antibacterial agent.
Several relatives of mine believe that it really helps with stomach ailments and it is even known to the Japanese who use it as a tea in Okinawa, Japan!!It is currently being investigated for possible benefits in Alzheimer's disease, cancer and liver disorders.
I have on one occasion met with an Indian family who told me a lot of good things about tumeric. At home Indian women use the paste to get rid of superflous hair. and it is often used in wedding rituals.
My own cultivation of kunyit has helped me in cooking many dishes with a local flavour. Fish cooked in kunyit and assam is a favourite dish for my children. Chicken deep fried with a good coating of kunyit and pepper is heavenly. And another fish recipe which requires finely pounded kunyit and lemon grass to fill up the stomach cavity of the fish andthe wrapped up in banana leaves and baked over charcoal is a great dish. Petai and prawns cooked in a coconut milk and kunyit soup is a refreshing dish and a delightful change from the normal fare.
Perhaps very soon, more and more research will find great uses of tumeric.
I truly believe that we should consume more of this wonderful root which has been used since 600 BC!!! It was also recognised by Marco Polo as a good replacement for saffron in 1280.
Source: Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc
Monday, May 12, 2008
Memoir by I Am Sarawakiana at 4:05 PM