It’s so precious that of all traditional medicines it was picked and patented by University of Mississippi way back in 1995. We had to fight tooth and nail to get that patent revoked in 1997. This lead to many other patents and subsequent legal battles still going on. I think that it was more of an honour issue rather claiming its benefits which anyway were lost due to our love for convenience. You are right I am talking about the “Turmeric- The Golden Root”
The other day I had two shares on my FB wall. One mentioned about a research study on how to increase the availability of Curcumin(active ingredient in turmeric) by adding pepper for cure/prevention of several cancers. Other post had a data chart showing how all types of cancers are growing fast in number in India. These two are quite contradictory points. India has been using turmeric and pepper in most of its food for say more than 5000 years (a very popular number these days for government). Why are the cancers increasing at such an alarming rates if turmeric is known to prevent it. Pollution, lifestyle all matter but curcumin is supposed to remove cancer cells which are produced every moment in our body.
These articles imply that either we are consuming less curcumin or using adulterated powder . Both these reasons put powdered turmeric as the culprit. Most of curcumin and turmeric oil is lost in processing and we don’t have control over adulterants in powder form. A recent Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) study found presence of heavy metals beyond the safe limits in leading brands of organic turmeric powder like copper and arsenic..
Scary but solution exists. Lets go back to our traditional way of using raw turmeric(grown at home). Modern times demand convenience and using turmeric raw seems to be time consuming . I will show you that it isn’t but first I am listing some benefits of consuming raw turmeric which make it ‘The Golden Root’ .
Benefits of raw Turmeric-
Raw turmeric has several health benefits which turmeric powder will not have. For example turmeric oil is one constituents which is lost when it’s processed.
Curcumin: Curcumin, the key active ingredient is lost (to an extent, not fully) while processing. Based on what process is used to make powder turmeric from raw turmeric – curcumin is lost.
Bioavailability: We need some fats/oils for many medicinal compounds/pigments in plants to get absorbed in our body like Lycopene in tomato. Here we don’t need anything to absorb curcumin from raw turmeric. The reason is Mother Nature has already included an oil in it – “turmeric oil”. Turmeric oil is around 6-9% of raw turmeric.
Quality control: We have more control over quality as additives / fillers and colours are added to turmeric during its processing. If we eliminate this process we eliminate a potential area of adulteration. We can grow raw turmeric in your back yard. Once you grown one batch the bulb can be used again to grow more and thus control the quality of turmeric too.
Economical and Eco-friendly: It is much cheaper to buy raw turmeric then powder. By not processing we are saving energy and also not adding to waste in terms of packaging
Great aroma: Raw turmeric has great aroma as compared to powdered one. This is because of the oils present in it. This can add a distinct taste to the food.
How to store and use raw turmeric
Now the use and storage part for convenient cooking. Fresh turmeric is seasonal and we don’t get it all year so storage methods are very important .
First method –Deep Freeze, After washing the roots in vinegar/potassium permanganate / ozone we can air dry fully , pack in foil bags and store in freezer for upto a year. We can peel it and store it in a similar way. It becomes little soft but freshness remains the same.
Second Method –Golden Paste, After washing drying and peeling mentioned above we can make a paste of turmeric, pepper and oil and keep it in airtight glass bottle in refrigerator. This can be frozen like ice cubes and stored in freezer too. The reason it’s called golden paste because it has both turmeric and pepper which increases the goodness of turmeric by 2000 times. Oil can be of our choice. I use mustard oil in cooking so used that. Coconut oil also works. If kept properly this can last upto a month.
Third Method–Grated Turmeric, Freshly grated turmeric kept in a glass bottle can last up to a week.
Depending upon the need grating /grinding can be done couple of times in a month making it very convenient to use.
Grated Turmeric works well with dry sabzies like Potato and Cauliflower or Pumpkin or mixed veges . Just add after sautéing onions or frying dry spices.
Golden paste is wonderful in gravy preparations. Just add a spoonful where powder is to be added. Amount will depend upon individual tastes but for a family of four a tablespoon works for curry and teaspoonful in lentils. It can be grinded with ginger garlic onion to make the traditional curry paste.
My personal favourite is slow cooked milk with grated turmeric and little pepper as a relaxing and pain reliever drink.
Try using raw turmeric to avoid toxic adulterants and to get full benefit of this wonderful root.
Enjoy “The Golden Root” in its natural form and reap its benefits.