tips & tricks
Why turmeric is terrific for your health.
WRITTEN BY HEIDI BETHEL
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL OKIMOTO
Lindy Pastor, owner of a Reno spice and tea shop, with turmeric tea
With a rich, golden-yellow color and medicinal qualities that have been embraced for centuries, turmeric is regarded by some as a miracle spice. Used in cleanses, teas, international cuisine, and even dyes, this root-like member of the ginger family has a distinct taste and interesting character.
“Turmeric has a slightly warm flavor, somewhat similar to pepper or ginger but without the associated heat,” says Lindy Pastor, owner of salty-savory-sweet The Spice & Tea Shoppe in Reno. “It can be described as musty, earthy, bitter, or pungent, and somewhat acrid.”
Pastor suggests taming the powerful flavor by pairing it with other spices, including cardamom, cumin, coriander, black pepper, garlic, ginger, mustard seed, and cinnamon.
“It becomes quite magical and enhances these flavors in dishes, which is why it is most often a primary ingredient in most curry and Middle Eastern dishes,” Pastor says.
Western science embraces the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin, a compound found in turmeric. Pastor cautions that the typical turmeric available in grocery stores tends to contain less than 2 percent curcumin by weight. She says it’s better to seek out higher levels of the good stuff.
Go ahead, add a little to your morning tea or favorite chicken dish, and reap the benefits of this wondrous spice.
Freelance writer Heidi Bethel loves to enhance the flavor of her dishes at home with the vibrant yellow hue that comes from turmeric. And she’s a fan of its healing properties, too.
Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Ginger Tea
(courtesy of Lindy Pastor, owner, salty-savory-sweet The Spice & Tea Shoppe in Reno. Serves 1)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Honey, agave nectar, or natural sweetener of your choice, to taste
Slice of lemon
Ceylon cinnamon, to taste
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon coconut or flaxseed oil
Mix ingredients well and enjoy!
Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma
(courtesy of Lindy Pastor, owner of salty-savory-sweet The Spice & Tea Shoppe in Reno. Serves 1)
2 lemons, juiced
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons salty-savory-sweet Shawarma Spice mix (includes turmeric)
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 extra-large red onion, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Combine the lemon juice, ¼ cup olive oil, and Shawarma Spice mix in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add chicken and onion and toss well to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Use remaining olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan. Remove chicken and the onion from marinade and spread evenly on pan. Roast 30 to 40 minutes, until edges are browned and chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and rest 2 minutes; for more traditional shawarma, slice into bits. If crispier chicken is wanted, fry briefly in large pan over high heat in additional olive oil. Scatter parsley over finished dish and serve with tomatoes, cucumbers, pita bread, fried eggplant, feta, rice, or any other favorite sides.