Turmeric basically a tropical plant bearing a botanical name Curcuma Longa belongs to ginger family. Turmeric Finger is the rhizome with an uneven and segmented skin having a hue of yellowish brown with a dull orange interior and bright yellow when powdered.
Turmeric Finger – The Indian Saffron
This yellow spice is known in different regional names according to country and language.
The spicy, balmy and tart flavour with meek aroma makes it a finest ingredient in culinary, medicinal, colorant and even for divine purposes.
Turmeric finger, said to be the golden spice of life is an important spice of India from primeval period. It’s native to Southwest India, making India a significant producer of it. India cultivates whole world’s turmeric and most produce are consumed within India.
Turmeric Finger– in Cookery
It makes Indian savoury, sweet dishes, meat and vegetable curries colourful.
The outer regions of South Asia use turmeric as a colouring agent to impart rich yellow shade.
It is also an ingredient in canned beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice creams, frozen desserts, yogurt, yellow spongy cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorns, cereals, sauces, curry powders, gelatine etc.
The fresh turmeric fingers are prominent in Far Eastern recipes, such as pickles of turmeric chunks.
Turmeric fingers as a spice plays a major role in South Asian and Middle Eastern culinary. While Persian dishes use turmeric fingers as a starter ingredient, Iranian dishes caramelizes onions in oil and turmeric.
In South Africa turmeric fingers gives golden colour to boiled rice. The cuisines of Vietnam also use turmeric fingers to enhance the colour and flavours of certain dishes and also in Vietnamese stir fried and soup dishes.
The Cambodian staple dishes also contain turmeric fingers. The Thailand special yellow curry and turmeric soup is just an example of presence of turmeric finger in Thai cuisine.
In European dishes, sometimes turmeric fingers are used as an alternative to saffron spice.
Turmeric Finger- the Medicine
Curcumin, a vigorous constituent in turmeric posses therapeutic effects making it a healing remedy to liver problems, digestive disorders, skin diseases, cancer, atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps, bacterial infections, wounds, eye disorders and decreases congestion and inflammation from stagnant mucous membranes.
Turmeric and Health
It delivers anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent and anti-microbial properties. It contains health benefitting essential oils such as termerone, curlone, curumene, cineole and p-cymene. Curcumin the poly- phenolic compound is anti-tumour, anti-arthritic, anti-amyloid, anti-ischemic and anti-inflammatory. It is no cholesterol and rich in antioxidants and dietary fibre which controls bad cholesterol levels. It’s a rich source of many essential vitamins such as pyridoxine, choline, niacin and riboflavin. It also contains minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc and magnesium.
Turmeric Finger in Indian Tradition
In India it is considered fortunate and holy and it plays a major role in wedding and religious ceremonies.