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
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?