Turmeric – that humble root or rhizome Spice is now in the spotlight.
Been used for a thousand years or more in South Asian cultures.
It is a Natural Food Additive that acts as a preservative and coloring in food, predominantly in India and Sri Lanka.
Widespread on the Asian continent and even used in Persian and Vietnamese cuisines, though less sparingly.
It is part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine and a disinfectant in the home surrounds.
Also known as Curcuma, one of its components Curcumin, is listed as Food coloring E100 and has many uses in western foods -from Cheese and Margarine to Sweets, Drinks and Sauces.
In the old country, homes and food businesses from the local bakery to the grocery store, used ‘turmeric water’ as a disinfectant.
I remember walking past the local grocery store most mornings on the way to school.
Watching the grocers’ assistant sprinkle the liquid mix, both in and outside the store, had me befuddled to say the least.
The grocery store was a huddle of wooden plank boxed together, with flattened metal drums for a roof and a mix of mud and cow dung for the floor.
It could hold about five people in addition to the dozen roughly arranged sacks of food, on the floor.
I remember my mum, using a stone and pestle to grind up the turmeric, along with a host of other spices into a paste for use in our meals.
Little did I know or foresee that it would, one day, have a ‘cult’ following in the Western world.
Marketing is a wonderful tool sometimes, in that it can pick up something obscure, then hi-light and bring out the best in it.
Wonder if it will work on us mere mortals – I mean the same ‘principle’
In the world of natural food preservatives, Turmeric must then be among the elite.
I mean there were no fridges then, – whatever precious food that was available had to withstand the ravages of a tropical environment.
Like, there is only so much salt and acid that you can put into food, before it becomes unpalatable.
Hopefully, results of current western scientific research will provide the catalyst, that promotes this long revered spice, to a higher level on the global stage.
After all, Ayurveda is a proven and practiced ancient medicinal art form, with a heavy emphasis on preventive therapy, using natural substances.
So tonight, if you are enjoying your Lamb Roganjosh at home, Yellow Rice at your Banquet, or Beef Rendang at your local Malaysian, – give yourself a pat on the back – well done.
You picked well!