Sustainable Organic Gardening

Terrific turmeric

Most of us know turmeric in powdered form purchased off the grocer’s shelf. I have to admit that I hadn’t until fairly recently used fresh turmeric, when I was given some to try.

Fresh turmeric root

Turmeric is a tropical rhizome and is part of the ginger family; it is used extensively in Thai and Indian cooking. It reminds me of gnarled, well-worn fingers and I use my vege brush to scrub the rhizomes clean. I grate it into my curries and various vegetable dishes, adding a warm-yellow-orange tinge and subtle flavour to my food. Actually, the tinge also bonds with fingers, cutting boards, kitchen benches and anything else it comes in contact with. Tip – be aware that the cut rhizomes do stain and it doesn’t wash out easily – in fact it is traditionally used as a yellow food dye, replacing tetrazine.

Turmeric is such a versatile plant – for instance, using the leaves to wrap around fish imparts a subtle flavour during cooking. In Indonesia, the young shoots and rhizome tips are eaten raw. I substitute fresh turmeric for powdered when it’s in season and add grated fresh ginger for an additional warm zing to my favourite recipes. I’ve been juicing a knob of turmeric and ginger blended with apple, beetroot and lime juice for a delicious drink. It’s full of healing properties and gives you that feeling of warmth deep inside that’s really good!

Turmeric blossom

Lamb Curry

Recipe by Theresa, the Chook Whisperer

(Serves 4)

  • 2 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium brown onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp grated fresh turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 750g diced lean lamb
  • 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock
  • Steamed basmati rice, to serve

Heat oil or ghee in a large pan. Add onions and stir over low-medium heat until translucent. Add garlic, cook another couple of minutes. Stir in spices; cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add lamb and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until sealed. Add tomatoes, stock and salt. Turn heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour until lamb is tender, stirring occasionally.

Serve with rice and mango chutney

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