Common name: Turmeric
A very commonly used spice in almost all curries, Turmeric powder is a staple in any Indian kitchen. There are more than 30 species of Turmeric. It’s very easy to grow in the garden and can spread over an area very quickly, producing new plants and rhizomes.
It’s said to have been in existence in Asia for thousands of years, with specific uses in Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, Unani and also folk medicine.
The leaves of turmeric plant is used to make a sweet; wherein rice flour and jaggery are layered inside the leaf, folded and steamed, giving the sweet a unique turmeric flavor. Turmeric powder boiled with milk is given to children to boost their immunity and relieve chest congestion. Fresh turmeric is a key part of Thai cuisine, mostly grated fresh into the dish.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which gives it the deep golden orange color. It is used as a dye for clothing, but it’s considered a weak dye that does not last long.
Turmeric is used in traditional medicine to relieve pain and inflammation, stomach ailments and also a variety of other diseases. Turmeric powder is made from rhizomes that are boiled, dried and then powdered. The plant does produce flowers, but only rarely.
Shell ginger or Alpinia zerumbet belongs to the same family as Turmeric and Ginger, and has similar but variegated leaves.
Propagation is from rhizomes, which can be soaked in water for day, and planted to grow new plants.
Photo Courtesy: Andy HYD, Paulsy Willy