I just finished writing an article for MIDAN‘s newsletter about turmeric–the beautiful bright yellow spice of the East. In India, a paste is made of turmeric and rose water or milk, and applied to brides’ and groom’s faces, hands, and feet. A friend of mine says it does give a glow to the face!
In Urdu and Hindi languages, it is called haldi. I asked my new friend Shayma, who writes The Spice Spoon, and she uses 1/4th teaspoon in many Pakistani dishes. In Arabic, turmeric is called curcum, which might be confused with dried safflower, usfur. In the Middle East, turmeric is used to give rice and chicken a yellowish tint. In North Africa, it’s called Khurqum and is used to give tagines (a meat and vegetable stew cooked in a traditional earthenware pot) and couscous a nice yellow color.
Turmeric may as well be called a “super” spice. The active ingredient, curcumin, is an anti-oxidant that might be even stronger than vitamin E. It fights inflammation, which leads to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and may treat arthritis and other inflammation diseases such as allergies and asthma.
Curcumin can stop the growth and spread of tumors and boost chemo and radiation therapy. It helps manage blood sugar levels for people with diabetes and delays or prevents cataract development. It lowers total and bad cholesterol, and increases the good one. It may slow down the cognitive decline seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Now that I got the science off my chest, we can get to the fun stuff. The recipe!
I went to a reception (for national registered dietitian day!) last week and they served grilled eggplants. Now if you’ve been following me for some time, you know there’s something about me and eggplants (fattet magdoos and eggplant dip recipes). I’m getting addicted! I bought 2 baby eggplants when I went shopping with no idea of how I will make them.
So when we decided to finally break in our cast iron pan and sear some steak (I will be posting the recipe soon), I thought this would be perfect for the eggplants. I sliced, about 1/2 inch, and threw them on the pan on low heat. I seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, dried thyme, and of course, turmeric. Flipped on the other side, added little more seasoning, and let cook until they are done. I really didn’t watch the time–I should have since I knew I had to share this with my great readers, so make sure the eggplants don’t burn. I loved how the eggplants came out. They are usually white and blah, but with turmeric, they were vibrant.
If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can make this on a grill, George Foreman grill, roast in the oven, or saute in any other pan.
I want to thank Azita from Turmeric and Saffron for allowing me to use her recipe in my article.
Here are some recipes that use turmeric:
- Spicy turkey keema
- Curried cauliflower with potatoes and chickpeas
- Chicken with green beans and carrots (Khorak-e Morgh)–Persian recipe
Store turmeric in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place. Be careful; it can stain your clothes, and don’t use too much because it can be bitter. Use with:
- Poultry and meat when boiling, sautéing, roasting, or baking
- Rice and other grains for a yellow color (natural food coloring that is cheaper than saffron)
- Vegetable soups, chili, chutney, Thai or curry sauces
- Fruit dishes, jellies, pickles, and relish, as a coloring agent
- Pastas, potatoes, and other vegetables