Mahanandi

Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Turmeric (Haldi, Pasupu)

Food blogging has opened a new way for me to meeting interesting people who also share my passion and philosophy in cooking. Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice is one such person. She belongs to the spice world and has a great knowledge about our traditional and ancient spices and herbs. I truly believe that we all could benefit from her knowledge. Through her periodical articles on Mahanandi, Anjali will be sharing the benefits and uses of various spices and herbs.
~Indira.

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Pasupu (Turmeric, Haldi)

Turmeric (Pasupu, Haldi)
Fresh and Dried Turmeric Root, Turmeric Powder and Fresh Turmeric Paste

Turmeric is probably the most revered spice in Ayurveda.

One cannot imagine a Hindu festival or wedding without this amazing wonder of nature. The western world has just started to understand turmeric whereas our ancestors knew it properties for centuries and incorporated it in our daily cuisine.

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic properties and is considered a blood purifier. Curcumin, found in turmeric, is an anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidant is a substance that has the ability to stabilize or neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals. An anti-oxidant may be a vitamin or mineral such as vitamin C or zinc. Free radicals are produced when cells convert oxygen to energy. A few free radicals are not dangerous, but too many can damage cell membranes, proteins and DNA. To get more information on free-radicals read this article. There’s a lot of research being done to see whether turmeric can be used to treat arthritis. Studies have also found that India, with its turmeric rich cuisine, has fewer cases of Alzheimer’s.

It’s interesting to see how Indian culture has incorporated turmeric in everyday life. In Andhra, women used to apply turmeric paste to their feet everyday (this custom is still going strong in some interior parts of Andhra). The reason behind this custom is that not many wore sandals/chappals in olden days and by applying turmeric paste they made sure that their feet were healthy. Now that’s smart.

Unfortunately, the turmeric powder that we buy in stores nowadays has some food color added to it. In my experience, pure turmeric has an orangish tinge to it. No wonder turmeric was confused for saffron in olden times and was also known as “Poor man’s saffron”.

Turmeric Milk and Turmeric Tea
Turmeric and Honey ~ for Turmeric Milk and Turmeric Tea

When it comes to turmeric in cooking, I add it to the tadka/popu but also sprinkle some after the vegetables are cooked. The most popular usage is warm milk with some turmeric and honey/sugar. My daughter sometimes complains of body ache after a long day of jumping and running (or after “sports day” in school which is invariably on the hottest day of the month). I give her a glass of warm milk with turmeric and it really helps. Milk with turmeric is also good for preventing and curing pimples. A mixture of honey and turmeric is a time tested remedy for sore throat. Gargling with warm water to which salt and turmeric is added, works well too.

Another interesting way to benefit from turmeric is to take it in the form of tea. Here is a simple recipe for Turmeric Tea: Boil water, add turmeric powder, grated ginger (or cardamom pods work well too), little sugar. Add some milk. Let it simmer for a few more seconds. Enjoy.

Turmeric is getting a lot of attention from researchers around the world. Hopefully this will generate more interest in Ayurveda too.

~ Guest Post by ~ Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice
Photo Credit : Indira Singari

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Herbs and Spices, Turmeric (Pasupu), Anjali Damerla (Thursday August 16, 2007 at 7:15 pm- permalink)

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31 comments for Turmeric (Haldi, Pasupu) »

  1. Hi,

    Nice, informative post on turmeric..

    And photos WOW..Captivating….

    Makes me visit ur blog n number of times a day..

    Needless to say, turmeric in milk best remedy for cough and sore throat.

    Comment by Anitha Srinivas — August 16, 2007 @ 7:38 pm

  2. Indira,
    The turmeric picture is equal to a thousand words, especially the stone and the turmeric paste- brilliant setting!

    Comment by nandita — August 16, 2007 @ 8:24 pm

  3. Indira and anjali,

    Nice and informative post. I enjoyed reading the biology behind the turmeric use.

    The picture with grinding stone is so good and it remainded me of my childhood memories. Those days my great grand mother(still there) used the stone to make sandal paste for us to put it on face.Thanks for sharing this

    Comment by laxmi — August 16, 2007 @ 10:10 pm

  4. Indira & Anjali,

    Thank you for a very informative post and equally captivating photographs!

    Comment by Chandrika — August 16, 2007 @ 10:31 pm

  5. Fabulous picture, speaks a thousand words… informative post.

    Comment by Kamini — August 17, 2007 @ 3:47 am

  6. That is a good write up. There are also some interesting articles on how “Turmeric prevents cancer”. But there is a bad side to taking too much turmeric. it’s very overheating to body. and also one should be cautious while applying it directly on face. it might burn. i think that it might help if you mix it up with little sandalwood powder.
    when my husband seems to be getting cold in a day or two, I could see it in his face. Then i would give him a cup of milk with a pinch of turmeric. it helps. it might not that helpful again once cold starts it full course.

    Comment by Avany — August 17, 2007 @ 6:55 am

  7. How much turmeric should one use, though?

    I find that it’s exceptionally rare for a recipe to require more than 1/4 teaspoon for a four-serving dish, but that seems miniscule.

    However, if I add more, the dish becomes excessively yellow and acquires a paste-y texture.

    What do do?

    Comment by Joe Grossberg — August 17, 2007 @ 8:59 am

  8. […] Anjali writes about the benefits and uses of turmeric. It’s interesting to see how Indian culture has incorporated turmeric in everyday life. In Andhra, women used to apply turmeric paste to their feet everyday (this custom is still going strong in some interior parts of Andhra). The reason behind this custom is that not many wore sandals/chappals in olden days and by applying turmeric paste they made sure that their feet were free of any infections. Now that’s smart. […]

    Pingback by DesiPundit » Archives » Turmeric — August 17, 2007 @ 9:29 am

  9. Hi Avany,
    You are right.Too much turmeric is not good and might not suit some. Turmeric is generally not given to small kids either( 4yrs and younger).

    Comment by Anjali — August 17, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

  10. Hi Joe,
    The excessive yellow color that you get could be because of the food color that is added to the turmeric powder. Pure turmeric has a orangish tinge to it.
    Turmeric tea or warm milk with turmeric are good alternatives.

    Comment by Anjali — August 17, 2007 @ 1:19 pm

  11. wow what a post! Very Informative! Never heard of turmeric tea although Iam known to be a tea fiend…ya thats what my friends call me!

    Thank you!
    Regards,
    Nina

    Comment by Nina — August 17, 2007 @ 1:48 pm

  12. Wow! Another wish to learn at the feet of a master, come true. :) Thanks Anjali.. it was nice to learn more about turmeric. I’ll look forward to learn more about the spices.

    Comment by Kay — August 17, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  13. Thanks for the informative post Anjali. I look forward to reading your articles on various spices.

    Avany: Turmeric usually produces tingle effect on the skin when applied raw. Stating it might cause burns is an overstatement.

    Comment by Smita — August 17, 2007 @ 5:15 pm

  14. Very interesting article. For a while I was grinding my own turmeric directly from the root, but you have to be very cautious about this and start bashing it to bits in the mortar and pestle first, because it can (and will) break your coffee grinder, as it is so hard. So if you start with big pieces th coffee grinder can’t handle it. It’s much more fragrant that way though, if one is willing to go through the pain, and potential liability of doing it.

    My favorite turmeric story, is that I had read that it is good as a face mask to improve skin, so I mixed it up into aa paste and applied it directly to my skin. Now, I’m a pasty white kind of gal (think red-haired - pale, pale, pale…!), so needless to say the results were shocking. I was yellow for two days and I’m sure all my work colleagues thought I had jaundice. Then I read that it needed to be mixed with a base, so now I mix it with besan and yogurt for the mask, with MUCH better results. Hee, hee, hee.

    Comment by Diane — August 18, 2007 @ 4:18 am

  15. Thanks Anita, Nandita, Chandrika and Kamini.

    Laxmi: we share the same memories and we do the samething at Nandyala.
    I have this stone at home mainly for sandalwood. I use it to prepare fresh, ground turmeric during festival times.

    Hi Nina: While simmering, I added a pinch of turmeric (for a cup of tea). It was good.

    Kay: Thanks for your supportive words.

    Diane: for fresh turmeric, we usually grind the turmeric root, adding couple of drops of water, on a coarse stone, like shown in the photo. Particularly during festival times, to decorate the deities we use fresh turmeric paste.
    Turmeric story, that’s funny.:)

    Comment by Indira — August 18, 2007 @ 11:41 am

  16. Verrrrry interesting and informative. I am a a big fan of turmeric. So cannot agree with you more. You are right. It is hard to get pure turmeric in the stores.

    Comment by Rythm — August 18, 2007 @ 5:40 pm

  17. Great post, really interesting and informative.

    I find it amusing how much “poorman’s saffron” is repeated in the West. When really turmeric is a special spice in it’s own right. It’s one of my favorite spices.

    Comment by Farid — August 19, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

  18. “Very interesting article. For a while I was grinding my own turmeric directly from the root, but you have to be very cautious about this and start bashing it to bits in the mortar and pestle first, because it can (and will) break your coffee grinder, as it is so hard. So if you start with big pieces th coffee grinder can’t handle it. It’s much more fragrant that way though, if one is willing to go through the pain, and potential liability of doing it.”

    Diane

    I grate dried turmeric on a rasp or box grater like nutmeg or mace.

    Comment by Farid — August 19, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

  19. Farid: That’s a brilliant suggestion! I will have to try it, as my poor coffee grinder is on its last legs. So much so, that for this last batch of turmeric I just went and bought a bag of the powder from the Indian store.

    My personal theory as to why it’s called “poor man’s saffron” is that mostly it isn’t used much in the west - so it sits on people’s shelves and gets dried out and stale - and ends up tasting like not much of anything, but just adding color. Whereas anyone who has gotten a whiff of freshly ground knows it has a wonderful flavor in its own right!

    Comment by Diane — August 20, 2007 @ 7:38 pm

  20. It was great to see an article on turmeric..!! One more ingredient that acts as a life saver or rather a measure to prevent severe cold, is to add some ground black pepper and jeera powder (In Tamil, we call it milagu-jeera) to warm milk along with some turmeric… it does wonders to the throat!!

    Have this broth just before going to bed.. you will feel tonns better.

    - Pavithra

    Comment by Pavithra — August 22, 2007 @ 6:17 pm

  21. I know someone with an undiagnosed ailment which has caused her to have “brown outs” - total loss of muscle control for about 10 minutes at a time while maintaining minimal consciousness. She has had this for many years. Recently she started taking a quarter teaspoon of Tumeric in her coffee per day and reports that these episodes have decreased considerably. Any thoughts or comments? Please post them or let me know. Thanks for the interesting info.

    Comment by Diane — September 9, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

  22. This is great! I am totally obsessed with turmeric and drink it in a tea with milk and honey all the time, especially at bedtime. It does wonders for the skin, and is so health giving. I echo Diane’s story of the yellow staining of turmeric face masks- but it comes off easy enough with some besan or a face towel. It’s also great for smokers as it it reduces the inflammation that causes in the body. I’m experimenting with adding fresh turmeric root to dal and other dishes.

    Lovely still life of turmeric, too!

    Comment by Loretta Allison — October 17, 2007 @ 10:53 pm

  23. I have learnt a lot from your website about tumeric. God bless you.

    Comment by Mabel — March 11, 2008 @ 8:37 am

  24. I am currently grating fresh (moist) tumeric root - approx 1 teaspoon/day as part of my self developed cancer treatment program. How does fresh tumeric compare with dried ground tumeric (or Curcumin powder) in terms of potency and quantity required?

    Fresh turmeric is definitely superior compared to dried, ground one both in terms of potency and quantity required. I would add atleast a teaspoon of grated turmeric to the regular and traditional Indian preparations like curries, dals and sambars etc.
    Hope this helps. I wish you all the best with your cancer treatment.
    -Indira

    Comment by Derek Binney — March 13, 2008 @ 3:42 am

  25. I am a little isolated on Vancouver Island.
    Is there an online source of tumeric root or sandlewood that anyone could share?

    I’ll also ‘Google’ it but thought I would ask.

    Thanks

    Namaste

    k.

    Comment by kmae — March 30, 2008 @ 11:18 am

  26. Can you help? If I add haldi with shea butter what do you think the effects would be? Could it clear the skin, i.e. freckles and blemishes

    Comment by Helen J. Hill — April 26, 2008 @ 7:20 am

  27. […] Culinary Uses : The Epices Centre, Make some Turmeric Icecream! Its many medicinal uses for all sorts of conditions, including cancers: WH Foods and Turmeric Web Site and here. More medicinal and culinary uses: Herbs at a glance For cosmetic use: Tumeric web site Photos of turmeric and turmeric plants: Spice Pages Fantastic photos of henna and turmeric hand ornamentation: HennaPage And a must see post from Mahanandi. […]

    Pingback by Turmeric - A Spice of Life: All About « A Life (Time) of Cooking — May 4, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

  28. I am looking for a source for turmeric based paste …. I’ve brownish paste given to me by my veterinerian. She purchased the paste while in China. I’ve had good results with a skin condition on my cat that nothing else worked on.

    It is brown … though it goes on “yellow” when rubbed into the skin. It has an true paste texture and after three years the small sample that I have has remained moist and oily in a less than airtight container.

    I’ve been using the paste for poison ivy with great results. It has also worked with several other skin conditions. It clearly contains turmeric as a main ingrediant.

    A one year old nephew has very a serious skin condition (either eczema or psoriasis). My sister does not want to use steroids on her baby. I am looking for a source for a paste similar to the one that I have now so that we can try it with on child. The vet has only her small supply.

    I’ve seen many references on the web to turmeric paste … but no commercial outlets for a paste.

    I can make something myself … but I’d love to find something similar to the paste that I have. I don’t imagine that I am going to make up something in my kitchen that has the balance and properties of a paste that is made from a recipe and method that has been handed down and developed over hundreds and perhaps thousands of years.

    Thanks!!

    joHn

    Comment by joHn Kennedy — June 4, 2008 @ 9:03 am

  29. do not eat or drink more than 1\2 tsp. of turmeric powder a day.it is a mild antibiotic,and over time will kill the good and bad bacteria in your intestinal tract and give you the runs.i found out the hard way.now i take 1\2 tsp.with a probiotic caplet daily with no runs.i was taking 3 tsp.twice a day.6 months later got diarria.took a month to build up my bacteria again.

    Comment by jeff — October 10, 2009 @ 4:16 am

  30. HOw do you make ground turmeric from fresh turmeric? do you have to dry it out first? Can you grow your own from a piece of fresh turmeric?

    Comment by samia — October 28, 2009 @ 4:44 am

  31. my question is the same as samia, how to process and use fresh turmeric. yes it grown from a rizon. i am growing it and how much fresh equals 1/4 tsp bought powdered.

    Comment by barb bolt — November 11, 2010 @ 2:17 am

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