Turmeric, Wonder Spice

Early in the new year, I came down with a stomach bug, with all the associated chills and thrills. As the illness subsided, it seemed a good time to renounce corporate painkillers. I would go all-natural when a pill was called for—and that meant I needed turmeric. It’s a popular spice in Indian dishes and big in Ayurvedic nutrition. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, among other healing wonders.

Turmeric rhizomes were available at the Bolinas People’s Store, but they went fast, and the rhizomes aren’t often available in these parts. The People’s Store has it in powdered form; check your local Indian market (Lotus Chaat & Spices, 1559 Fourth St., San Rafael, is awesome).

There’s an astringent bite to turmeric, so when you’re cooking with the rhizomes, grate it to a point where the dish is enlivened by the turmeric, not distracted. Get yourself right with a kale-with-eggs scramble, spiked with turmeric. I whacked up a lentil soup last week that headed to the outskirts of Mulligatawny with the addition of grated turmeric.

Over the weekend I made a marinade of pineapple juice, cumin, minced jalapeno and powdered turmeric, for a beef stir-fry that practically blew my vindaloo out. Even a humble $1.79 squeezer of Western Family mustard has a hit of turmeric in it.

The spice has curative powers that go all the way to killing cancer. The anti-inflammatory qualities are less debatable. Sprinkle in a Krishnamurti meditation on meditation (“Meditation is to be aware of every thought and of every feeling, never to say it is right or wrong but just to watch it and move with it”)—and you’ve got a cure for inflammatory rhetoric too.