Thailand, beyond being a land of smiles – and everyday, how nice to see it is real! – is also a land on which grow wonderful plants.
One of them that most of you will be familiar with, is the Curcuma longa, known as turmeric. It is part of the Zingiberaceae family, just like ginger and galangal, and the part used is the rhizome.
Turmeric has many health benefits, and has been used for the longest time in India where it also grows, through Ayurvedic Medicine, as far back as during the 4th century BC. according to traceable writings in Sanskrit.
Its deep yellow-orange color is also used for natural food colouring and it helps in preserving the food longer. It is a key ingredient in curries for instance, as well as in some desserts.
Some of the health benefits conferred to the turmeric are based on its chemical component called curcuminoid, among which you will commonly find the curcumin; known for its super potent antioxidant effect, its benefits on many ailments such as digestive and joint related issues.
Its positive effect on healing those conditions, alleviating the pain and easing the inflammation that goes along with it, are even recognised in the western medicine and you can find many laboratories producing turmeric based supplements.
So, how do we integrate this beautiful tropical spice in our daily life?
Before we start, in case that could be a question in a corner of your mind…
“An herb is the green, leafy part of the plant. A spice can come from the root, stem, seed, fruit, flower or bark of the tree or plant. And a plant can be host to both an herb and spice at the same time” –
(to read more about that, go on almanac.com)
1. Adding turmeric to your food
Did you know that the Curcuma longa stimulates the appetite? Also, it dissolves well in lipids, so a great way to make its health benefits available to you is by blending it with fats in your recipes! (in oil, butter, cream): in curries (indeed!), if you bake, or my favourite: in dips for your vegetables or in salad dressings…. which leads me to share with you my recipe for turmeric veggie dip.
As you read through the articles containing recipes on this blog, you will understand that I am all up for efficiency: easy recipes, but aiming at maximum health benefits.
Turmeric vegetable dip
- 2 teaspoons Tahini
- 1 teaspoon Cold press virgin olive oil
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Ground turmeric
- 1/2 piece Lemon, squeezed
- 1 pinch Black pepper
- 1 pinch Chilli ((optional))
- Start by mixing the turmeric with the tahini and the black pepper (and the chilli)
- Add the lemon, mix energetically (otherwise the tahini and lemon tend to separate)
- Add the olive oil, mix to get a smooth texture, and it is ready
- Tip: if you add the other half of the lemon and a bit more olive oil, you will get a tangy and creamy salad dressing. Efficiency: 2 recipes in 1!
2. Sipping on a spiced drink
What do you have in your kitchen cabinets? I hope many herbs and spices! Although I love using fresh ones, it is not always convenient, and I sometimes end up wasting some, so the dried versions are already very good.
I buy many of mine at Radiance Wholefoods, they have a good variety, their prices are always reasonable, plus they deliver.
The power of turmeric is even more effective if you combine it with some of his cousins (ginger, galangal), and studies show that the piperine: component of the black pepper (Piper nigrum) also multiplies the effects of the curcuminoid.
A good way to sip on a turmeric drink is then to combine it with more spices… yes, just like for a masala tea. I have here 3 hot drink recipes for you.
– Turmeric in the morning:
Make a spiced tea using :1/4 spoon of each: clove, ginger, turmeric (dry, in powder).
Blend them together, add them to your tea, in loose leaves. I recommend a full bodied black tea, like a tea from Assam. Brew the tea (the right measurement is 2.5 g per cup), at 90-95 degrees, for 2-3 minutes. Strain.
That drink can help on the days you choose not to drink coffee, it is quite strong, sip it! My former boss, tea “guru”and founder of Newby Teas, Mr. Nirmal Sethia, from whom I learn a lot, always tells us:
“You don’t slurp tea, you sip it. It’s not supposed to be drunk quickly, it’s to be savoured and enjoyed”.
– Turmeric in the afternoon:
Make a turmeric latte, using your favorite milk. I use pistachio milk from the brand 137 degrees.
Blend 1/4 of each: carob powder, ground turmeric, nutmeg and ginger powder. Add a pinch of black pepper if you’d like. Pour 1/3 cup of hot water (90-95 degrees) and let it infuse for 4-5 minutes. Strain into a cup.
Take 2/3 cup of the milk, warm it, froth it, and pour it into your cup with the infused spices.
Note: If you do not have a frother yet, Ikea has some very cheap ones.
– Turmeric in the evening:
Take one tea spoon of chamomile flowers, 1/2 tea spoon of raw honey, 1/4 tea spoon of turmeric, and one drop of orange essential oil (otherwise, some orange peel).
Put your honey, turmeric and the orange essential oil drop at the bottom of the cup, mix smoothly. Separately, infuse the chamomile flowers for 4-5 minutes with some hot water at 80 degrees. Strain. Pour the chamomile infusion onto the honey mixture. Enjoy before a good night sleep.
You can find different varieties of New Zealand honey at Kai, on Sathorn.
5. Turmeric, as a food supplement
Last but not least, it is interesting to consider adding turmeric in your diet as a supplement. Why? Because the amount of turmeric in your food and beverages – although beneficial – would still be in smaller quantity than what a concentrated version could deliver to you.
For arthritis and joint pain for instance, to reach an optimum effect, you should probably consume several grams of turmeric a day. And how much really do you want to use in your recipes?
When it comes to supplement, you will have a concentrated and activated form of turmeric extract. The level of curcuminoid should be as high as 95%.
So when choosing your brand of supplements, check for that information. I haven’t looked for more brands in Thailand, but if easily available to you, check Solgar’s Curcumin supplements.
Note: read well the information, as turmeric has a stimulating effect on the liver function, so for anyone with liver conditions, it might not be suitable.