Turmeric known as Haldi in Hindi and Halud in Bengali, is another spice omnipresent in Indian culture, not only in cooking but also as a part of various other rituals.
It is a member of the Ginger family and is native to South East Asia. The root is dried and ground to a fine bright Yellow Powder which is used extensively to flavor and color Indian curries. The Sanskrit word for Turmeric is Haridra which means “Yellow Wood” and that is what the dried root looks like. The spice has an earthy, bitter flavor, and it is added to Indian curries in a very small proportion as an excess of it ruins the taste
Turmeric is also used extensively in Indian rituals and signifies prosperity and fertility. In Indian Hindu weddings, applying turmeric paste to the bride and groom on the morning of the wedding is an important part of the wedding ceremony. In Bengali weddings its the grooms side who send this turmeric paste along with several other gifts for the bride on the morning of the wedding and these gifts are known as "Gaye Halud er Tatwa"
In the Southern Part of India, Turmeric is also a offered to married women as part of a ritual called “Haldi Kumkum”. Please correct me as I am not much aware of this ritual.
Why Turmeric Is Good For You
In Ayurveda Medicine, turmeric is considered to have numerous medicinal properties. It was considered as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent in India and was used for cuts and burns. It was also said to purify blood and my Ma insisted that a small ball of turmeric paste & jaggery (fresh turmeric was used for this and not the powder) eaten every morning would purify the blood and alleviate all stomach problems. Its another thing that the pungent taste of freshly grated or ground turmeric didn’t actually salivate my taste buds and so I would keep away from those tiny balls of goodness
Turmeric contains Curcumin which is anti-inflammatory and used for psoriasis treatment.Recent studies have shown that turmeric reduces cholesterol, blocks progression of neurological diseases like Alzheimers and works wonder in short
A very nice and appetizing way to include fresh Turmeric in my diet other than the powder which I simply cannot live without is something I learnt from M (not a Bong but a Marathi), a cousin of my cousin M. So say M1 is my cousin and M2 is M1’s cousin. Now M2 (an excellent cook) has been very kind and has fed me delectable food on two occasions, but stupid me has lost her number and since M1 has moved back to India, have never been able to call M2 since.
Now once when we were at M2’s for dinner she declared “I have to have green chillies with my meal, I love munching on them and I always do this”, saying which she took out a pretty flat container from the refrigerator where in there were sliced vibrant green chillies and slivers of bright orange carrot like thing floating in lime juice. Very happily I too took some of the chillies and the “orange” thing thinking all the time “why the carrot tasted different”. On finally giving voice to my thought, M2 said the weren’t carrots but juliennes of fresh turmeric and I was hooked.
Turmeric in Lime Juice
Since then I buy fresh yellow turmeric from the Indian Grocery Store when ever I remember to do so, peel the outer skin, cut them up in juliennes, slit some green chillies, squeeze some lime juice and let the slivers of turmeric and green chillies soak in the lime juice with a little salt.
Refrigerate them and they stay good for couple of weeks. As the days go by the pungent flavor of turmeric is mellowed down and they taste better. So if you do not like them on Day One give them a try couple of days later.
Have it with your meal as a substitute for the pickle or let the pickle be and have it as one more thing with your meal.
Turmeric Info source: Me and my family, Wiki & this
Update: From all the comments I wanted to make a few updates which I think would be useful for everyone
Shilpa of Flog&Rosbif said she doesn't like the "staining" part which is true. I forgot to say, chopping up the turmeric may stain the chopping board so put a plastic wrap on your chopping board and then chop. Hands can be cleaned with rubbing lime on them, and even simple soap & water is fine. But if you have a French Manicure...
Maheshwari of Beyond The Usual said they use Turmeric for removing odor of meat while cooking
KitchenFairy of Secret of Taste and Gini of Salt & Pepper said that turmeric paste was used for cosmetic purposes. Yeah applying turmeric paste on your face etc. is one of the many popular uses in India
Supriya of Spice Corner says even the leaves are used to make some dishes for Ganesh Chaturthi.
Sunita of Sunita's World said they have a custom similar to Bengali Weddings called "mah-halodhi"
This goes to Weekend Herb Blogging brain child of Kalyn's Kitchen and hosted this week by Becky of Key Lime & Coconut