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Tag Archives: Turmeric

  • How to Cook with Turmeric

    With its sunny color, distinctive fragrance and warm flavor, turmeric has long been one of the world’s most versatile and popular spices. It’s an essential element in curries and Middle Eastern spice blends such as ras el hanout, and lends its golden color to many other dishes. Let’s get to know this colorful rhizome a little better, and look at the best ways to cook with turmeric to release its fine flavor and long-documented nutritional benefits.Turmeric Quinoa 3

    In the bazaars of the Middle East, India and other south Asian countries, amid the vast array of clove buds, coriander seeds, cinnamon bark and peppercorns — and all the other spices the world has come to love — you will see heaps of turmeric powder looking like a mountain range of gold.

    A perennial relative of the ginger family, turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. The rhizome has a tough brown skin and deep, orange-red flesh which, dried and ground, yields the turmeric powder found in most spice cabinets. In southern Asia, where the plant is grown, fresh turmeric leaves are also used to wrap food for cooking.

    For thousands of years, the turmeric rhizome has been used as a remedy for cuts, concussions, aches and pains and other ailments. Modern medical researchers have been studying the molecular properties of curcumin, the chief chemical compound in turmeric, as a way to effectively prevent cancer. Curcumin is also being studied as an effective means to fight against diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer's and stomach ulcers, to name a few.

    At our Napa shop, customers often ask us about how to use this versatile, powerful spice. Here are our top tips for cooking with turmeric:
    » With its slightly bitter taste, turmeric can overpower a dish if you use too much. The best way to release its delicate flavor is to use small amounts per recipe, first sauteing it in hot oil for just a few seconds.
    » Also, piperine — a compound in black pepper — appears to help the human body absorb curcumin more effectively, so we always throw in a pinch of black pepper with the turmeric.

    For the best results cooking with turmeric:
    » Use about 1/4 - 3/4 tsp per recipe, depending on number of servings.
    » Saute the turmeric in hot olive oil before adding other ingredients.
    » Turmeric can burn very quickly: Prepare all the ingredients in advance.
    » If using onion or garlic, saute these first.
    » Once the onion is browned, mix in the sauteed turmeric and saute for about 20 seconds, allowing the oil to soak up the flavors. The turmeric will start to change color rapidly, from bright orange into darker orange.
    » Quickly add the rest of the ingredients to prevent the turmeric from burning.

    Once you start using turmeric on a regular basis, it's fun to find new ways to use it in home cooking. Try this recipe for a tasty side dish: Turmeric Quinoa »»

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  • What A Dal!

    The amazing world of Indian cuisine can be summed up to tantalizing aromas, colorful flavors and exotic textures that work in harmony to create signature dishes like curries, tandoori chicken and chicken tikka masala.

    One of our favorite Indian dishes is dal (daal or dahl) which is actually a split version of a number of pulses such as lentils, peas, mung beans, chickpeas and more. When they are split into half, it is considered to be dal; an example would be mung beans split in half is mung dal.
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  • The School Project

    A week ago, Shuli and I had participated as volunteers at our sons school. This joint effort involved students from Kindergarten through the third grade.We had the great pleasure of demonstrating how various spices were used in ancient times as dyes and for cooking. Each child was given the opportunity to dye a muslim bag with turmeric,choose from a large array of spices to make their own Havdalah mix, and use a mortar and pestle to grind spices for making Israel's famous za'atar spice blend.The children sprinkled the za'atar mixture over sour cream and olive oil and it was served to the entire school as an accompaniment to their delicious school lunch, much of which was prepared by the students on-site .

    The following day when the muslin bags had dried, the Kindergartners filled the bags with their spice blends making their own b'samim bags (same as potpourri bag) for Havdalah, which is a Jewish religious ceremony that marks the symbolic end of Shabbat and holidays ushering in the new week. The ceremony is usually celebrated at home with family and friends and includes three blessings: over wine, spices, and lighted candles. Continue reading

  • Turmeric The Golden Wonder of Herbs & Spice

    Most of you who enjoy cooking probably have turmeric in your spice cabinet right now. And even though you may use it often, what you may not know is that this common item is one of the worlds best all around herbs.

    Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and is a perennial relative of the ginger family. Its tough brown skin and deep, orange-red fleshed rhizome is dried and ground into a powder. Although most usage of turmeric is in the form of root powder, the leaves of turmeric can be used to wrap and cook food which imparts a distinct flavor. This usually takes place in areas such as southern Asia where turmeric is grown locally, since the leaves used are freshly picked. Continue reading

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