Health Benefits of Indian food
First, besides being fantastically delicious – Indian food is healthy. In fact, it is so healthy that one of the main spices is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, fights free radicals, fights infections, has been studied and proven to fight the onset of Alzheimer’s and cancer and more! What is this super spice? Turmeric! First, turmeric is actually a gorgeous looking root. It comes in a rusty orange type color (you can buy your fresh root at Whole Foods, H-Mart and other places around town).
In addition, turmeric has a mild yummy taste and a gorgeous color (as with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables – if there is a gorgeous color – the fruit or vegetable will have a lot of antioxidants and be good for you – think watermelon, red peppers, etc).
Weirdly enough, to be most effective, turmeric must be eaten with black pepper! Thus, a curry blend that normally has pepper is perfectly suited to be absorbed into the body. A word of warning: turmeric is an amazing dye! Which means, if you get it on your hands, clothes, towels you are likely to have stains afterwards – so be careful.
You can wash the root and grate it – then put it into smoothies (about 1 tablespoon fresh grated turmeric is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of dried and it will give you a gorgeous colored smoothie), on green salads (for a gorgeous color and exotic taste – 1-2 teaspoons fresh grated turmeric), and more. Find some fun recipes below.
Easy Homemade Chai Tea
2 inches of fresh, washed and diced turmeric root
3 black peppercorns
1 star anise (optional)
1 inch fresh diced ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seed
6 cups water
Add all ingredients to a medium sized sauce pan, bring to a boil. Strain. Pour into mugs and add your own sweetener to taste.
Carrot Ginger Turmeric Smoothie (from Minimalist Baker)
1 large ripe banana, previously peeled, sliced and frozen (more for a sweeter smoothie)
1 cup fresh pineapple
1/2 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger)
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup carrot juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (~1/2 small lemon)
1 cup milk, yogurt or unsweetened almond milk
3 Tablespoons sugar (completely optional, but I like my smoothies sweet)
Blend smoothie ingredients on high until creamy and smooth. Add more carrot juice or almond milk if needed.
Taste and adjust flavors as needed, adding more banana or pineapple for sweetness, lemon for acidity, ginger for bite, and turmeric for warmth.
Divide between two glasses and serve.
Homemade Turmeric Powder:
You can make your own turmeric powder!
Wait, what? Why would I want to make my own turmeric powder if I have the root? Why don’t I just use the root? Shelf life. However, nowadays that we have such modern conveniences as freezers – you can actually keep fresh turmeric a very long time, once frozen (cut into small cubes so you can take out what you want). Fresh turmeric will not stay forever, you have a few weeks at most (turmeric is related to ginger, so as long as you can keep ginger in the fridge, that’s about how long you can keep turmeric).
Let’s say you want to make your own turmeric (as opposed to just buying a container in the store).
1 pound of fresh turmeric
Water to cover
Wash the root well (this way you don’t even have to peel it).
Boil for about 35-45 minutes (you can leave the skin on – though the color of the end result of the turmeric powder will be darker than if you were to take the skin off, but probably even healthier for you). You are looking for the root to be soft. The boiling process softens the starches within the root to make it easier to grind.
Cut the turmeric into small pieces (looking to make more surface area) to make it easier to dry. You can sun dry these roots for 10-12 days! Though this is true, alternatively, you can pop the small pieces into a 200 degree oven and once the root is dried out (about 2-3 hours), you can then let it completely cool and then grind it up. And voila – you will have your own fresh ground turmeric.
2 cups Basmati Rice
3.5 cups water
1 Tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
Wash the rice in 2 changes of water. Set the timer for 20 minutes and bring the water, rice, turmeric and salt to a boil on high heat in a covered medium sauce pan. When the water is boiling, lower the heat to medium low.