Turmeric

Turmeric is ubiquitous in ayurvedic cooking. It contains the flavonoid curcumin, which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. This all-around wonder spice is said to help detoxify the liver, balance cholesterol levels, promote a healthy response to allergens, stimulate digestion, boost immunity and enhance the complexion. It is also an antioxidant. Ayurveda recognizes it as a heating spice, contributing bitter, pungent and astringent tastes.

Turmeric is a bright yellow-orange spice and, used in tiny quantities, imparts a rich color and look to cooked white rice, potatoes or yellow lentils. Add it to the water in which rice or lentils are being cooked. It combines well with other spices such as cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and cinnamon.

Here's a quick, easy way to enjoy turmeric. Sauté half a teaspoon of cumin seeds, half a teaspoon of turmeric and half a teaspoon of sweet Hungarian paprika in a tablespoon of ghee. Remove from heat as the spices start to release their aroma, and stir in a cup of diced steamed vegetables such as zucchini, cauliflower or broccoli. Add salt to taste and garnish with some chopped fresh cilantro. Cooked red kidney beans or cooked lentils also work well with this spice mixture.

Turmeric can stain fabrics and other materials, so handle carefully.