I love cooking with turmeric because it adds a brilliant yellow color and pungent taste to so many foods. Plus, its active compound, curcumin, has been extensively studied and displays an impressive list of benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that are important to bone health.
Used in foods, turmeric can deliver a significant amount of curcumin. You may be most familiar with turmeric as a key ingredient in curry powder and other savory dishes. I like to use it whenever I can. Here are some of my favorite recipes using turmeric:
1. Turmeric-spiked ghee
Turmeric is fat-soluble, and in traditional Indian cuisine, it’s generally cooked in ghee (clarified butter) or oil. Heat 1 Tbsp of ghee, add ½ tsp of turmeric powder and lightly sauté it for a few minutes. Store your “turmeric ghee” refrigerated in a jar and use it as a colorful and healthy oil for sautéing vegetables, nuts and seeds.
2. Beautiful yellow rice
Use the same turmeric ghee as nutritious condiment when cooking rice. Put 1 Tbsp turmeric ghee in a saucepan, along with ¼ tsp cumin seeds and a pinch of black pepper and salt. Sauté this spice mix a few moments before adding to the rice cooking water.
3. Turmeric-ginger tea
Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Put in ½ to 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp ginger powder, 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon, and a pinch of pepper. Simmer this for 15 minutes, then let settle, strain, and drink hot or cold with sweetener if desired.
4. Golden milk
In a saucepan, mix and bring to a light boil the following:
- 2 cups of any “milk” you choose (dairy, soy, rice, almond, or ½ almond and ½ coconut milk)
- 1 Tbsp of ground turmeric (feel free to start with less)
- 1 tsp powdered or fresh ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp sweetener (maple syrup, sucanat, etc.)
- Pinch of black pepper
5. Chicken curry salad
- Dress shredded chicken or chopped tofu with a mixture of turmeric, curry powder, cumin, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.
- Add chopped celery or red pepper, raisins, chopped walnuts, minced garlic and a pinch of cayenne pepper and black pepper to taste.
- Drizzle with a bit of lemon or lime juice, and serve over salad greens, rice, or use as a colorful sandwich filling.
More ways to use turmeric powder:
- In deviled eggs or chicken soup
- As a natural coloring for bland foods such as mashed potatoes, rice or quinoa
- Sprinkled on avocado or salads
How much turmeric powder to aim for?
To gain health benefits from the spice, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking 1 to 3 grams of dried, powdered turmeric root per day, which is about 1/2 to 11/2 tsp. A small amount of black pepper enhances the bioavailability of curcumin, as does boiling.
With so many ways to use turmeric, no wonder it is one of the most widely used culinary spices worldwide! If you would like to learn more about the benefits of turmeric and curcumin, see my recent blog “New study suggests curcumin helps build bone.”