D from Townsville, Queensland writes:
“Hello Kurma! I attended one of your great classes here in Townsville last year. You mentioned something about making a tea from fresh turmeric. Tell me more. And do you have a recipe?”
Here’s my reply:
“Hello D! Thanks for your letter. Here’s some turmeric information: Known as Curcuma longa, turmeric is a tropical rhizome (under-ground stem) in the ginger family. Its large leaves are sometimes simmered in Malaysian Nyonya cooking. In Thailand the young tender shoots are boiled and used as a vegetable.
Most turmeric however is cultivated on a large scale to yield its brilliant orange-yellow rhizome (pictured below). The short, waxy rhizomes are boiled, cleaned, sun-dried and then ground to a fine aromatic yellow powder – the ubiquitous turmeric powder used throughout India, Asia and beyond to impart its familiar warm, yellow-orange glow to cooking.
Not so well known is the fact that the rhizomes are also used fresh, and here in Australia fresh turmeric root is grown commercially, and can be found at well-stocked fruit and vegetable outlets and Asian suppliers.
It is a delight to use fresh, but must be handled with great care because as soon as the rhizomes are cut, they can seriously stain fingers, aprons, even cutting boards and knives. I usually grate them while wearing disposable kitchen gloves. I love to use fresh turmeric in long-cooking dishes like dals and moist vegetables to give the fresh product time to do its magic.
I also fry fresh turmeric with grated fresh ginger in any recipes that ask for powdered turmeric, and I use it in double quantities. In other words, if a recipe calls for teaspoon powdered turmeric, I will use 1 teaspoon of the fresh. Used fresh, its slightly bitter and pungent flavour is unsurpassable.
Turmeric is not just a pretty face. In Chinese medicine, turmeric is known to stimulate circulation, resolve bruises and clots, strengthen the gall bladder, inhibit dangerous blood clotting, reduce liver toxins, act an anti-inflammatory, and help metabolise fats.
It is also revered in India’s Ayurveda as the most natural antibiotic, even surpassing echinacea, and as the most potent of all blood purifiers. It is also recommended as the best herb to regulate women’s menstrual periods and as a powerful tonic for women’s reproductive organs.
There has been a lot in the news lately about the amazing healing properties of turmeric, a free-radical-fighting antioxidant-rich spice that has been hailed as a defence against both cancer and Alzheimer’s. I was sent this recipe for a warming, detoxifying ginger-turmeric tea recently. The tea is delicious. Ginger and turmeric combine with citrus and maple syrup to make the perfect blend of healing nutrients.
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Bring water to a boil, then add powdered herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Strain tea into a mug, add maple syrup and lemon, stirring to combine. Drink warm. Makes 1 serving. That’s it!
Posted by Kurma on 11/1/08; 1:20:32 PM