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Turmeric is derived from the root of Curcuma longa, a leafy plant in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae native to South Asia. In medieval Europe, turmeric was popularly known as Indian Saffron, as was widely used as an alternative to the more expensive saffron spice. The root, or rhizome, has a tough brown skin and bright orange flesh. Ground Tumeric comes from fingers which extend from the root. First the finger like stalks or rhizomes is boiled for long hours after which they are dried in hot ovens. After drying they are grounded to a deep orange-yellow powder using a combination of grinding methods. Colour variations can be seen depending on the origin of the plant.
 

It is mildly aromatic having scents of orange or ginger and a pungent, bitter flavour. Turmeric is used to add Eastern mystery to new favourites as well as in traditional curries, vegetables, rice, fish and meat dishes and condiments to add colour and flavour. It is a classic addition to chutneys, pickles, and relishes.

     




Turmeric is a valuable herb extensively used in India Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. The finger like stalk is scalded, dried and used for medicinal preparations. Some of the recognised health benefits of turmeric are:

   
Treating digestive disorders and prevents the formation of gas and helps to improve large intestinal flora.
   
As an anti-inflammatory agent (e.g. treatment of osteoarthritis)
   
Treatment of arteriosclerosis – may cause a reduction in bad cholesterol that can lead to blockage of the arteries.
   
Preliminary studies suggest a potential treatment for certain cancers – breast, colon, prostate and skin (only low-quality studies in humans have been conducted)
   
Protection from dysentery, jaundice and other liver problems by reducing activity of roundworms and intestinal worms.
   
It is also extensively used in treating cough problem - add a pinch or two of turmeric to warm milk to soothe respiratory ailments such as cough or asthma.
   
Preventing bacterial infection in wounds.
   
Healing wounds - sprinkle a bit of turmeric with honey (optional), on cuts, bruises, or scrapes after a thorough wash, as the anti bacterial action will prevent wound infections. One should be careful while using turmeric since its deep colour can easily stain.

   
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