Hello readers and welcome to my first post. The first of several more to come, I hope. I gave some thought to what I wanted the first post to be. I wanted it to be ethnic and something that was not too common or well known. I also wanted something that was interesting enough to hold my readers’ attention, since I am not yet one of the blogging elite :|. Something spicy and healthy that would be good for you.
I stumbled into my local Indian grocery store as I was pondering over all this, and what do I see in front of me? A huge box of FRESH turmeric! Turmeric ( Hindi: Haldi) is a spice or condiment which is very commonly used in Indian cooking. Apart from giving curry its yellow colour, it has tons of other advantages – antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, to name a few. It is part of the typical ingredients present in any Indian pantry’s spice box, and is used in almost every dish. We all remember the turmeric paste our moms and grandmas put on our scraped bloody knees, bruises, tooths etc. I am sure a lot of you will also remember the Vicco turmeric ad explaining how ‘turmeric’ gave ‘Banno’ her creamy complexion. I fondly remember those good old college days when a primitive besan and haldi face pack was your lifesaver before any impromptu party. Enough said about all these nostalgic references.
Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin which has a variety of advantages. It is supposed to be very good for you and improves heart health, lipid numbers, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, inflammation, various forms of cancer etc. Some good detail can be found here and here. Google will also come up with any more info needed.
The turmeric you get in the store is dried and ground to powder, but there is also a ‘fresh’ form which looks very much like ginger from the outside. Turmeric pickle is a popular family recipe, mostly because it is something so different and tastes great. Also, you can feel good about it since it has all the inherent medicinal properties. Some might argue that the words ‘pickle’ and ‘healthy’ do not go together, and I agree to some extent. But you can control the salt and oil added as much as you want by substituting with more lemon juice and vinegar. Also, since this is ‘hot’, the most a person eats at a time is maybe a tsp or less. I also make it in small batches so not much salt is needed. This is not like your ancient year long pickle in earthen jars, that had to have tons of salt to last for several years. Refrigeration also reduces the salt needed.
If you are not used to having turmeric in your food, the taste can be a bit strong and pungent at first. But I hope that you try this out and come to like it. Other uses I am working on are making some kind of chutney, and adding it fresh grated to vegetables, soups etc. to increase the nutrient value. The recipe follows –
- Turmeric - 2 cups grated
- 2 teaspoons - mustard powder
- 2 teaspoons - methi (fenugreek) powder
- 2 tablespoons - cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon - salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon - sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup oil
- Peel the turmeric with a vegetable peeler and grate it. You can also use a food processor.
- Heat some oil and let it cool a bit.
- Mix all the spice powders given above and put about 1 tablespoon of oil from above and mix it up. Do not use hot oil as it will give a bitter taste to the mustard.
- Mix this spice mixture with the grated turmeric, and put it in an air tight bottle or jar.
- Add the lemon juice and remaining oil and mix well.You can later add more oil, or more lemon juice/vinegar as needed if you want more 'juice' to this.
- Let this pickle marinate for 2-3 days before serving.