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Common in India and the Middle East, turmeric still remains a mystery spice to many cooks in the West. Knowing how to use turmeric can be tricky at first but there's really nothing to be intimidated about.
The main thing you need to know about turmeric is that it loves fat. That's because curcumin, the active ingredient responsible for this spice's antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties, is only soluble in fat - not water. So if you want to get the most out of turmeric you'll have to blend it with a fat such as oil, butter or dairy.
Turmeric may be purchased fresh (more on that here) or in powder form. Just remember that the dried spice is three times more potent than the fresh version so adapt recipes accordingly, and learn how to use turmeric in everyday dishes so you can enjoy its myriad of health benefits.
How to Use Turmeric in Savory Dishes
In Indian dishes, this spice is added at the beginning of the cooking process so it has time to cook and release its essential oils. A little goes a long way so a teaspoon will often suffice when cooking for 4 to 6 people.
Add it to the pot when sautéing aromatics such as onions, garlic and ginger in some oil. It is delicious in stews, soups and rice and meat dishes such as these chicken tikka patties.
You can also use turmeric when blanching vegetables to give them a golden color, as is the case in this cauliflower and pea recipe.
Another popular use for turmeric is to make golden milk. This anti-inflammatory elixir is easy to make and great for people with arthritis. Here's a great recipe from Nutrition Stripped- it contains black pepper which helps the body absorb curcumin.
You can add turmeric to virtually any dish, from veggie stir fries to soups, stews and meat dishes. In Latin cooking, turmeric makes a great substitute for artificial colorings in yellow rice. Try it and let us know how you like it.