Every so often, for the past of couple of weeks, my mother has been emailing me photos. The photo above, entitled The Salt Gatherers, she sent yesterday. My mother explained her month-long trip this way “some people grieve by getting in bed and pulling the covers up over their heads. I feel it’s best for me to continue to live.” I credit my mother for this and have been living vicariously through her during her trip to India. I have been hearing about the food she is eating and all the delicious flavors and combinations. Yesterday she wrote “I had a porridge of rice, cashews, raisins, curry leafs and cardamom for breakfast.” I could practically taste it. And so in honor of my mother, I am going to tell you about something she is eating a lot of in those curries. Today let’s talk turmeric.
If I had to pick one spice, I wished clients used more in their cooking it would be turmeric. Turmeric is one of the spices used in curries but also what gives yellow mustards their color. In Chinese and Indian medicine turmeric has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is helpful for my sports nutrition clients as it decreases joint pain. Turmeric is also a potent antioxidant and has been shown to slow the growth of cancer cells. Turmeric may also help your liver clear LDL cholesterol and lower cholesterol. It is especially interesting to note that in India where turmeric consumption is very high, Alzheimer’s rates are extremely low.
I asked my friend John Marsh, the chef at the Green Door Café for a non-curry turmeric recipe. This one sounds great.
Potent Antioxidant Chicken Broth with Turmeric
1, 2-3 pound all natural chicken
3 legs of celery
1 medium white onion
Chop all except the chicken
2 bay leafs
3 black peppercorns
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
Bring all to a boil; reduce to simmer for 1 hour remove chicken, let cool. Strain solids out of the broth. Remove chicken from carcass and dice. Add your favorite vegetables diced, simmer 5 -15 min depending on how soft you like your vegetables. Add diced chicken, salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Turmeric works well in dips, egg salad and lentils. Chef John recommends organic turmeric from Whole Foods or Fairway. He also uses turmeric with fish, especially snapper and grouper, and says it’s great in preparing risotto or any other good rice dish. I also would like to point out turmeric is available in capsule form in one of my favorite supplements called Zyflammend.
In case you’re not convinced (how could this be?) turmeric, in a 2009 Tufts study, showed promise as a weight loss aid…in mice.
What are your favorite spices? Any other turmeric recipes or ideas?