The Best of Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a perennial herb plant that is best known for curry dishes.  It originated in South Asia, especially in Erode (south India), which is historically known as the “Yellow City” due to its abundant production of the ginger-family plant.  It grows in wild tropical forests within the temperature range of 20°C to 30°C, ideally during the monsoon season.

The ground turmeric that we find in supermarkets and at the herbs and spices kiosks here in Sharm is an outcome of boiled turmeric rhizomes, which were later dried in hot ovens and ground to achieve an orange-yellow powder. It is commonly used in Indian, Thai, Malaysian , Persian and Philippine dishes as a spice.

Curcumin, turmeric’s active ingredient, is the substance responsible for its earthy, slightly bitter taste, chilli flavor, aromatic mustard scent, as well as for its medicinal wonders.  It can be used for the following:

  • To heal & stimulate the recovery of burns, cuts, burns & bruises, apply a mixture of 1 tsp turmeric & 1 tsp aloe gel;
  • As an antibacterial & disinfecting agent, boil 1 tbsp crushed, raw turmeric or 1 tsp powder in 1/3 cup of water & drop it on the area at least three times a day.
  • As a pain reliever make a paste of 1 tsp turmeric & 2 tsp crushed ginger with water; spread over a cloth, place on the affected area and bandage, or drink a mixture of 1 tsp turmeric and 1 cup of warm milk before bed.
  • To cure anemia, drink a daily dose of 1 tsp turmeric with honey & dilute it with 1 tsp of water
  • To cure asthma, drink a warm cup of boiled milk with 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • As a skin moisturizer, apply a paste of turmeric & honey before bedtime and wash it off a few minutes later
  • If made as a tea, it can be used as a dietary supplement, which cures ulcer, stomach problems, poor digestion, dyspepsia & for gastrointestinal discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive disorders.
  • Take a mixture of 1 tbsp turmeric & 1 cup yogurt right after lunch to normalize the metabolism, to aid in protein digestion, to increase the bio-availability of food in the body, to heighten food absorption, to nurture the intestines, & to prevent lipid production
  • Daily intake of 1 tsp turmeric mixed with water or honey can decrease the cells growth for pancreatic, cervical, cancer, colorectoral, liver and lung cancers, and likewise to cure arthritis, multiple myeloma, Alzheimer’s disease and heart problems
  • To cure dental problems, rub the teeth and gums twice daily with a paste of 1 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp. Salt.
  • To cure diabetes, take ½–1 tsp of turmeric powder 3 times a day.
  • To cure diarrhea, drink a mixture of ½ tsp of turmeric powder and water, 3 times per day.
  • To cure coughs and congested nasal passages, inhale the steam of turmeric boiled in water.
  • To cure nose problems, such as sniffles, nosebleeds, sinusitis, apply a mixture of Turmeric and organic ghee to the mucus lining of the nose.
  • To kill poisonous snake bites, apply a powder of turmeric on the affected area.

As for the turmeric’s culinary specialty, here is a Philippine recipe that is certain to add spice into your life:

Bicol Express, a satisfying coconut stew, created in a region famous for the conically perfect Mayon Volcano.

  • 1 kilo pork or chicken, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ cups red bell peppers, sliced
  • 3 cups long chili or jalapeno peppers, sliced (adjust it according to your taste)
  • 2 tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp. turmeric
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 3 cup coconut milk
  • 3 cup coconut cream
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 ½ cup bagoong or if not available blend anchovies

Saute garlic in hot oil. Add onions and cook until translucent. Stir in fresh ginger and turmeric, Stir continually for 5 minutes. Add bagoong or anchovies and the meat. Stir until the meat is completely covered by the mixture. Pour in 3 cups of coconut milk, 3 cups of cream, the sliced hot green and red bell peppers. Let it boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste

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