All spices used in Indian kitchens have medicinal properties. The procedure to use them is handed down from grandmothers down to their daughters and grand daughters.
Turmeric is one such spice which is widely used all over India.
Being a fan of the Golden Spice ‘Turmeric’ , I wanted to compile the uses of Turmeric Plant. Most of us are familiar with Turmeric Root. Not many are aware that Turmeric Leaves and Flowers are also used in some countries.
Turmeric Root :- The Root is usually used in the powdered form. However, fresh raw turmeric is also used. The Medicinal properties of Turmeric was known thousands of years ago in ancient India. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti fungal, anti viral , anti bacterial and hence used extensively in India. The medicinal properties of Turmeric come from its component called Curcumin which imparts the golden colour to Turmeric.
How is Turmeric powder prepared ? – To powder the root, it is first boiled, then chopped into small pieces and then dried under the sun till it dries up completely. The dried pieces are then powdered at home or powdered at a flour mill.This powder is then used in cooking.
It is preferable to prepare Turmeric powder at home from dried Turmeric root. Most Turmeric powder sold in markets is either devoid of curcumin or adulterated. Make sure you buy from a ganuine source. Dry turmeric root can be bought at provision stores or even bought online. Just break the Turmeric root into pieces using a stone and get it powdered at your local flour mill.
Here are the different uses of Turmeric Root :
- Recipes – Turmeric powder is a mandatory spice in most Indian kitchens. Most of the recipes use Turmeric as an ingredient. Turmeric imparts a golden colour to the food and also has typical flavour. Thus Turmeric is consumed regularly through food which helps in having a healthy body.
- Hindu traditions – Several Hindu traditions/customs/rituals use Turmeric powder. Turmeric paste is applied on the Threshold of the House to repel insects entering the house. Turmeric paste is moulded into a small cone and is worshipped as Lord Ganesha or Parvati Devi. Turmeric powder is offered along with kumkum to other married women when they visit our homes. This is offered as a blessing to wish a long married life to the woman.
- Medicine – A drink made with Turmeric powder and other spices boiled in water or milk is used to treat coughs and colds. It is a Blood Thinner and helps in reducing Cramps during periods. Turmeric paste is applied on Bruises to disinfect the wound and heal quickly. Curcumin is also anti cancerous as it induces apoptosis in Cancer cells.
- Weddings – Turmeric powder is used in several rituals in Hindu weddings. A lot of turmeric powder is used before, during and after the wedding. In fact , a dried turmeric root ,tied to a string, is traditionally used by the groom and tied around the nect of the bride to signify that they are wedded. Turmeric paste is applied to the bride and groom during ‘Haldi ceremony’ by all the kith and kin.
- Beauty treatment – Turmeric powder along with other ingredients is made into a paste and applied as a mask , which gives a beautiful glow . Turmeric paste if applied to feet regularly prevents cracked feet. Turmeric paste along with sandalwood powder can heal pimples/acne thereby preventing formation of dark spots.
- Pesticide for plants – Turmeric powder mixed in water can be sprayed as a natural pesticide for plants.
Here are a few uses of Turmeric Leaves :
- The paste of Turmeric leaves are applied on bruises as it is an antiseptic
- Paste of Turmeric leaves is applied on the face to reduce dark spots
- Recipes – Sweet Rice dumplings (Patholi) are wrapped in Turmeric leaves and steamed. Very popular in Konkan, Mangalore , Goa
Marinated fish is wrapped in Turmeric leaves and steamed.
Idli batter is wrapped in Turmeric Leaves and steamed.
Here are a few ways Turmeric Flowers are used :
Turmeric flowers are chopped and used in preparing Soups and Salads.
Whole Turmeric flower is dipped in batter made with chickpea flour, salt, chilli powder and deep fried to make Pakodas/fritters
You can also grow Turmeric at home if you are interested in gardening. It takes 9 months for the root to be harvested. Fresh/raw turmeric root can be placed under soil during May and harvested in February next year.