Spice up your life

Sometimes referred to as the golden spice of life or Indian saffron because of its deep yellow-orange colour, turmeric has been used for thousands of years in South East Asia and the Middle East as a condiment, a textile and hair dye, and a health remedy. Here is an overview of all you need to know about this super spice…

10 ways turmeric could improve your health-
Prevents heat disease
Eases inflammation
Promotes balanced mood
Improve skin conditions
Protects against Alzheimer’s disease
Reduces diabetes risk
Relieves arthritis and osteoporosis
Strengthens the immune system
Stimulates digestion
Detoxifies the liver

How to use it
Turmeric as a spice is known in its fresh root or ground powder form. As a plant, however, all its parts are edible, from the flowers (as a vegetable) to the leaves (to make a wrap). It belongs to the ginger family and has a pepper-like aroma and bitter flavour. It is an essential ingredient in curries, but you can also enjoy its amazing benefits, which are produced from very small quantities in hot beverages (try a warming turmeric tea or latte) and smoothies. And don’t forget to include it when making a natural body scrub or face mask for glowing skin.

How to grow it
Although the tropical plant (botanical name Curcuma longa) mostly grows in South Asia, you can plant your own turmeric and add a lush and exotic look to your home. Fill pots with rich organic soil and insert root cuttings (called rhizomes) about 5cm under the surface with a couple of buds facing up. The plant thrives on heat and moisture, so keep it in a conservatory or on a sunny windowsill and water regularly. Turmeric roots mature in eight to 10 months and can then be harvested and boiled, left to dry, peeled and ground.

‘Holy’ spice
More than a spice, turmeric is revered in both Hinduism and Buddhism and used for devotional purposes. Being associated with fertility, luck and the sun, it is often a gift for pregnant women – and turmeric paste is also traditionally applied to a bride’s skin as part of a ritual purification before her wedding. So, not only is it a culinary treat with healing properties, but turmeric can also be considered auspicious and sacred.