Sunday, June 19, 2011

Usage of Turmeric

Culinary uses
Turmeric grows wild in the forests of Southeast Asia. It has become the key ingredient for many Indian, Persian and Thai dishes such as in curry and many more.

In Indonesia, the turmeric leaves are used for Minangese or Padangese curry base of Sumatra, such as rendang, sate padang and many other varieties.

Although most usage of turmeric is in the form of root powder, in some regions (especially in Maharashtra), leaves of turmeric are used to wrap and cook food. This usually takes place in areas where turmeric is grown locally, since the leaves used are freshly picked. This imparts a distinct flavor.

In recipes outside South Asia, turmeric is sometimes used as an agent to impart a rich, custard-like yellow color. It is used in canned beverages and baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn color, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces, gelatins, etc. It is a significant ingredient in most commercial curry powders. Turmeric is mostly used in savory dishes, as well as some sweet dishes, such as the cake sfouf.

Although usually used in its dried, powdered form, turmeric is also used fresh, much like ginger. It has numerous uses in Far Eastern recipes, such as fresh turmeric pickle, which contains large chunks of soft turmeric.

Turmeric (coded as E100 when used as a food additive) is used to protect food products from sunlight. The oleoresin is used for oil-containing products. The curcumin/polysorbate solution or curcumin powder dissolved in alcohol is used for water-containing products. Over-coloring, such as in pickles, relishes, and mustard, is sometimes used to compensate for fading.

In combination with annatto (E160b), turmeric has been used to color cheeses, yogurt, dry mixes, salad dressings, winter butter and margarine. Turmeric is also used to give a yellow color to some prepared mustards, canned chicken broths and other foods (often as a much cheaper replacement for saffron).

Turmeric is widely used as a spice in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. Many Persian dishes use turmeric as a starter ingredient for almost all Iranian fry ups (which typically consist of oil, onions and turmeric followed by any other ingredients that are to be included). In Nepal, turmeric is widely grown and is extensively used in almost every vegetable and meat dish in the country for its color, as well as for its medicinal value. In South Africa, turmeric is traditionally used to give boiled white rice a golden color.

In Goa and Dakshina Kannada (Karnataka state, India), turmeric plant leaf is used to prepare special sweet dishes, patoleo, by layering on the leaf — rice flour, and coconut-jaggery mixture, and then closing and steaming in a special copper steamer (goa).

Preliminary medical research

Turmeric is currently being investigated for possible benefits in Alzheimer's disease, cancer, arthritis, and other clinical disorders. As an example of preliminary laboratory research, turmeric ameliorated the severity of pancreatitis-associated lung injury in mice.

In the latter half of the 20th century, curcumin was identified as responsible for most of the biological effects of turmeric. According to a 2005 article in the Wall Street Journal, research activity into curcumin and turmeric is increasing, with supplement sales increased 35% from 2004. The U.S. National Institutes of Health currently has registered 19 clinical trials underway to study use of dietary turmeric and curcumin for a variety of clinical disorders (dated February 2010).

 Uses in folk medicine

In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent and remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. Some may use turmeric in skin creams as an antiseptic agent for cuts, burns and bruises. It is popular as a tea in Okinawa, Japan.
 

Cosmetics

Turmeric paste is traditionally used by Indian women to keep them free of superfluous hair and as an antimicrobial. Turmeric paste, as part of both home remedies and Ayurveda, is also said to improve the skin and is touted as an anti-aging agent. Turmeric figures prominently in the bridal beautification ceremonies of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Staining oneself with turmeric is believed to improve the skin tone and tan. Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of some sunscreens.[citation needed]

The government of Thailand is funding a project to extract and isolate tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC) from turmeric. THCs are colorless compounds that might have antioxidant and skin-lightening properties, and might be used to treat skin inflammations, making these compounds useful in cosmetics formulations.

Dye

Turmeric makes a poor fabric dye, as it is not very light fast (it fades with exposure to sunlight). However, turmeric is commonly used in Indian clothing, such as saris.

Gardening

Turmeric can also be used to deter ants. The exact reasons why turmeric repels ants is unknown, but anecdotal evidence suggests it works.

Ceremonial uses

Turmeric is considered highly auspicious in India and has been used extensively in various Indian ceremonies for millennia. Even today it is used in every part of India during wedding ceremonies and religious ceremonies.

It is used in Pujas to make a form of Hindu god Ganesha. Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, is invoked at the beginning of almost any ceremony and a form of Ganesha for this purpose is made by mixing turmeric with water and forming it into a cone-like shape.

During the south Indian festival Pongal, a whole turmeric plant with fresh rhizomes is offered as a thanksgiving offering to Suryan, the Sun god. Also, the fresh plant sometimes is tied around the sacred Pongal pot in which an offering of pongal is prepared.

In southern India, as a part of the marriage ritual, dried turmeric tuber tied with string is used to replace the Mangalsutra temporarily or permanently. The Hindu Marriage act recognizes this custom. Thali necklace is the equivalent of marriage rings of west.

Modern Neopagans list it with the quality of fire, and it is used for power and purification rites.

Friedrich Ratzel in The History of Mankind reported in 1896 that in Micronesia the preparation of turmeric powder for embellishment of body, clothing and utensils had a highly ceremonial character. He quotes an example of the roots being ground by four to six women in special public buildings and then allowed to stand in water. The following morning, three young coconuts and three old soma nuts are offered by a priestess with prayer, after which the dye which has settled down in the water is collected, baked into cakes in coconut moulds, wrapped in banana leaves, and hung up in the huts till required for use.

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