Cook’s Cupboard: Turmeric


In the kitchens of southern Asia, the fresh turmeric rhizome is a vital ingredient in many dishes, imparting a vibrant citrus and ginger taste. You can find fresh turmeric, according to availability, at some Indian grocers’ (in Auckland, try Mahadeo’s in Eden Terrace). The powder ground from the root makes up the vast majority of turmeric used and its flavour is much subtler and earthier. Powdered turmeric gives a rich golden colour and earthy flavour to many Persian dishes, such as this quick adaption of a pilaf. In a large pan or pot with a lid, fry thin slices of 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic with 2 Tbsp slivered almonds, 1tsp turmeric powder and a good glug of rice-bran oil on quite a high heat until the onion and garlic are quite crisp and brown. In saucepan glaze 1 grated carrot in a little brown sugar and butter, then add to the onion mix along with _ cup jumbo raisins. Add 1 cup basmati rice and 1 Tbsp butter and stir everything until each grain of rice is coated with butter. Pour over two cups water – the water level should go approximately a finger’s width above the rice mix – then cover with lid. Bring to boil then turn heat down immediately to lowest setting and let cook for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and let stand for another 10 minutes. Don’t be tempted to lift the lid at all during the process. Finally lightly fluff the rice up with a fork before spooning onto a platter to serve alongside Middle Eastern stews, kebabs or whole fish dishes. The curcumin in turmeric is currently being studied for its possible anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, as well as a role in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease.


2 thoughts on “Cook’s Cupboard: Turmeric

  1. Hey Anna,
    Picked up some fresh tumeric at the Avondale market today – when using it, do I use it just like I would ginger and garlic – finley grated/diced at the start of cooking, or should I add it later on?

    1. hey Mike

      Funnily enough we were at Avondale yesterday too, and I found not only regular turmeric but white turmeric, which I had never heard of (apparently good for pickles).
      First thing when cooking with fresh turmeric is to wear gloves when preparing it, and make sure you don’t let it touch any stainable surfaces. If you’re using it to enhance curries and stews and the like, you can either grate it in finely near the start of cooking, to fry along with garlic, ginger etc, or add it later on, it won’r make too big a difference as it really is used more for its colour than flavour. You can also just add pieces of it (peeled) to curries and stews to impart its flavour and colour and then remove before serving. To make yellow rice, add pieces of peeled turmeric to the pot to steam with the rice (along with some oil), and then stir to get the colour imparted evenly through the rice as it cooks – remove turmeric befroe serving, If following a recipe that calls for dried/powdered turmeric, use double the quantity of fresh as it’s not as pungent.
      Hope that helps! x

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