Ter­rific turmeric

Why not spice up your morn­ings with turmeric, says Rachel Allen, and then try an earthy lamb curry or a sun­shine fish curry later? Pho­tog­ra­phy by Tony Gavin

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - LIFE -

Ial­ways start my week­days with some turmeric. Not in a spicy curry, mind you, but in a warm­ing and com­fort­ing drink that comes from an age-old In­dian Ayurvedic recipe, see op­po­site page. I nor­mally make it while I’m still semi­con­scious, pot­ter­ing around the kitchen be­fore any­one else is awake. I don’t have to think about what to do, as I keep all the in­gre­di­ents I need in a tray on the counter. It starts me off on the right foot first thing in the morn­ing and, once I’ve had it, I feel (per­haps ridicu­lously!) that I can con­quer any­thing that comes my way.

The In­di­ans, who have been prac­tic­ing the holis­tic Ayurvedic way of life for thou­sands of years, have long known, way be­fore med­i­cal­re­search labs were in­vented, that turmeric is not just a su­per-spice, but one of the orig­i­nal su­per­foods too. It packs a might­ily pow­er­ful punch, medic­i­nally speak­ing, and has long been used to treat a va­ri­ety of mal­adies. It has al­ways been thought to have an­tiox­i­dant, an­ti­sep­tic, an­tibac­te­rial and anti-in­flam­ma­tory prop­er­ties, and is now be­ing very se­ri­ously ex­plored as a can­cer treat­ment.

Turmeric — which grows as a rhi­zome, a bit like ginger and galan­gal — can be used fresh, but it’s usu­ally dried and ground to a pow­der the colour of an In­dian sunrise.

More earthy than ginger, yet milder and more bit­ter than pep­per, the yel­low-stain­ing spice (not the time for your favourite white table­cloth!) brings a very im­por­tant flavour to so many Asian dishes, while bal­anc­ing per­fectly with a host of other spices.

This lamb curry, op­po­site, is one of my favourites and won’t mind if it’s made a cou­ple of days in ad­vance or frozen. The sun­shine fish curry is so named be­cause it just looks so happy, like sun­shine on a plate, and who doesn’t need a bit of that?

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