Terrific Turmeric

Like the orange of the rising sun everyday, the one ingredient that was de-facto spice in the kitchen growing up, was turmeric. I don’t think I have seen my mom cooking any curry, soup or dal without it. The yellow orange color it imparted to most of the dishes stays today with me the appetizing color.

Turmeric, commonly known in India as Haldi, has been a staple spice in an indian kitchen for thousands of years. Vedic texts have references to it as herbal remedies to treat effects of poisonous foods. Latest scientific studies around Turmeric is proving what Ayurveda already knew 4000 years ago. Turmeric should be on top of our list of all medicinal herbs for its properties.

The evidence of benefits from Turmeric are irrefutable whether you depend on the age old knowledge or the latest scientific research.  A powerful anti-oxidant, turmeric is able to fight free radicals and prevent some of the damage they cause. Majority of turmeric’s unique properties come from Curcumin, an active ingredient that is antioxidant. It helps to reduce inflammation the body and has applications for those who suffer from arthritis, swelling and muscle strains or inflammation from injury or surgery.

What is inflammation? Why is it so bad?

First of all inflammation is expected response of our body’s natural self-healing capability. So, it is something that’s needed for us to be able to fight uninvited bacteria and viruses, wounds and keep pathogens out. So, inflammation is not bad as long as it is temporary.

But, that natural process goes haywire in our modern life when the foods we eat, lack of proper sleep, and psychological stress puts our body and mind in continuous state similar to being wounded again and again. This results in continuous inflammation, and that is real bad.

Obviously, we want to reduce such chronic inflammation by reducing the sources of stress. Turmeric can further help in that process. Turmeric can also help in so many other conditions such as rheumatism, high cholesterol, angina, IBS, colitis and liver diseases.

How to consume turmeric?

If you already cook (like curries, dals) with good quality turmeric, probably you are getting a preventive dosage already. Upto 1 tsp of turmeric powder a day is great.

If you have high inflammation and want to consume higher doses, I have a recipe for a sweet paste that you can make at home and consume a tsp of this everyday. The paste also contains Ginger, another cousin of Turmeric that adds to the anti-inflammatory properties of this recipe.

  • 1/2 cup Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup Ginger root, paste
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews)
  • 1/2 cup Dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Ghee
  • 1/2 cup Jaggery (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Raisins

Why black pepper? There is a great deal of evidence that Curcumin availability and absorption into your bloodstream increases multifold when consumed with black pepper.

Directions: First, combine ginger and turmeric powder in a blender to make a paste.  Heat ghee and add cumin seeds. When the seeds start giving out its aroma, add ginger turmeric paste. Cook on medium heat until contents do not stick to the pan. You can now add everything else and cook the mixture for 15-20 minutes on low heat. Adjust water, if needed to get a paste like consistency.

Let it cool down and keep this mixture in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Start with 1/2 tsp everyday and if you are able to tolerate it well, you can easily eat 1-2 tsp everyday.