Turmeric has been used through the ages as a condiment, medicine and textile dye.

Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, and has a tough brown skin and deep orange flesh. This herb’s flavor is peppery, warm and bitter while its fragrance is mild and reminiscent of orange and ginger, to which it is related.

Turmeric is native to Indonesia and South India, where it has been harvested for more than 5,000 years. It has served an important role in many traditional cultures throughout the East, and is revered in Ayurveda.

Turmeric powder should kept in a tightly-sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place. Fresh turmeric rhizomes should be kept in the refrigerator. Be careful when using turmeric, since its deep color can easily stain. To avoid a lasting stain, quickly wash any area with which it has made contact with soap and water. To prevent staining your hands, you might consider wearing kitchen gloves while handling turmeric.

If you are able to find turmeric rhizomes in the grocery store, you can make turmeric powder at home by boiling, drying and then grinding them finely.

Turmeric is an excellent source of iron and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fibre and potassium.

Now, for a recipe

Pomegranate and lentil soup

Ingredients

Gram dal: 120 gm

Butter: Two tbsp

Onion (diced): one

Garlic (minced): two cloves

Water: 400 ml

Long-grain rice: 50 gm

Turmeric: one tsp

Salt and freshly-ground pepper: To taste

Fresh basil (chopped): 30 gm

Green onion (chopped): 30 gm

Pomegranate juice: 80 ml

Chopped fresh mint ( two tbsp) or crushed dried mint (two tsp)

Raisins: 2 tbsp

Preparation:

Rinse lentils several times. Set aside to drain

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add sweet onions and

toss to coat

Gently sauté onions until soft, about 3 minutes, stirring often

Add garlic and sauté 2 additional minutes. Add water, drained lentils,

rice, turmeric, salt, and pepper

Cover and simmer on low about 45 minutes, until lentils and rice are tender

Add basil, green onions, and pomegranate juice to the soup. Simmer an

additional 15 minutes

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet, add mint

and saute until butter turns golden

Divide soup into serving bowls. Drizzle each with the mint brown

butter and sprinkle with a few raisins to serve

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