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.