Turmeric’s Role In Indian Food

Thanks to its bright color, turmeric has a role at the forefront of a huge number of different curry dishes. That said, what dishes are they, and what are the tasting notes of your average turmeric powder?

The Flavor of Turmeric, and Some Common Names

Turmeric’s bright golden color is accompanied by an earthy odor and a pungent flavor. The taste itself is a little bitter, as well as being peppery and slightly gingery. The ginger makes sense, as the turmeric plant is actually a close relative of the ginger plant.

Turmeric is often used as a coloring agent in a recipe, though if you skip it in a recipe you may also be compromising on flavor. Purely for flavor, a good substitute can be dry mustard. By making that substitution, you’ll be losing out on both the color and the health benefits of authentic turmeric powder.

The turmeric plant has many different names. The scientific name is Curcuma longa, and in India, it is typically called Haldi (in Hindi). There are many other languages in India, and it has a slightly different name in all of them, for example, halud in Bengali, or haladi in Urdu.

Turmeric health benefits

The Golden Spice’s Main Uses In Cooking

By and large, turmeric is grown for its rhizomes, from which the turmeric powder is extracted. The bright yellow-orange cooking spice is used in a huge number of foods and drinks as a coloring agent, and the primary pigment in turmeric - curcumin - is sometimes extracted and used as a coloring in several different food industries.

As a coloring, turmeric is mostly added to dairy foods, bakery products, and savory foodstuffs. When used in this way, it’s often added to recipes which have a large proportion of an overpowering flavor, so that you can’t taste the turmeric in, say, banana ice cream. Most notably in this vein, turmeric is used to achieve that striking color in a number of differently flavored confectionaries: both lemon- and banana-flavored products can use turmeric to achieve the yellow color they desire.

When used to achieve a certain flavor, turmeric is added in much greater quantities. It can typically be found in sauces, pickles, sausages, and dry mixes. The spice has quite a neutral flavor compared to other, similar spices, so it can be found in a large number of foodstuffs. Turmeric can mostly be found in curry powder, as it will help to give curry its very distinctive color and taste. We use it pretty much everything, from tarka daals, to curries, health drinks and smoothies!

Mushroom curry with turmeric and rice

When storing turmeric, it’s important to seal it in air-tight containers, away from sunlight. If it is improperly stored, it can lose its aroma in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Turmeric can be a great spice to include in any of your recipes. Aside from the health benefits, turmeric’s distinctive earthy flavor will lend a signature taste and aroma to any dish that you use it in. It pairs particularly well with other similarly earthy flavors, for example, leafy greens in a salad, or roasted vegetables in a side dish. Check out our authentic Indian turmeric powder today, and considering adding it to the next meal that you make!