I broke off the turmeric, and re-potted the plants which are flourishing quite well now. Turmeric has long had a very special place in the Indian home and it is not just in cooking, even though a whole lot of Indian dishes just wouldn’t be what they are without turmeric. Turmeric is harvested from rhizomes of the plant, boiled for five to ten minutes and dried (and used this way) or ground into the bright yellow turmeric powder. Turmeric is a bit of a “wonder” spice because it has so many uses. Turmeric (usually the dried kind) is also considered very auspicious in religious practices and traditions in my community. Women are always advised to carry a piece of turmeric on their person when visiting a home where death has just occurred because it is believed to give one some immunity against disease and death.It is also offered as part of “ vetthalappaku/ thamboolam ”, which is an offering given during auspicious rituals or to married women when they are leaving after a visit.
Turmeric has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties and even stops blood flow from small wounds. A home remedy that is common in India, when the kitchen knife slips and one cuts oneself. Apply a pinch of turmeric powder on the wound and press it down. Ten minutes and the blood flow will stop and the wound will heal quite well with minimal scarring.
In fact I remember rom my childhood days, the “Velichappadu” (a ritualistic possession/ trance-like state of the local oracle involving his slashing his forehead with a knife) with blood flowing down his face from his slashed forehead being treated with handfuls of turmeric powder on his wounds and the blood drying up with hardly any scars in evidence. Turmeric is an excellent remedy for a sore throat. I can remember any number of instances of being given a warm bedtime drink of milk flavoured with a teaspoon of turmeric.
Fresh turmeric mixed with sandalwood is used against acne and skin rashes, and with a bit of lemon juice reduces pigmentation on the skin. Turmeric powder mixed with chickpea flour and yogurt as a pack not only is a good body scrub that is refreshing but also lightens tanned skin. These are just a few of its numerous qualities. Fresh turmeric has a distinct flavour, very pleasing though delicate. It can also leave a long lasting yellow stain on everything it touches! The tender turmeric rhizomes can be used directly (in small quantities) to flavour salads, to colour pulav/ pilafs, grated into dals/ lentil curries and soups, or as Indian style pickles. This recipe is my own, and I made it in the style we normally use with tender ginger, or mango- ginger (a ginger that tastes and smells like raw mango). If you’re used to eating South Indian style Yogurt Rice (commonly referred to as Curd Rice), then this pickle is something that adds to that experience.
Indian Style Fresh Turmeric & Ginger Pickle
1 cup fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced thin* 1/2 cup finely chopped ginger Juice of 2 limes 2 to 3 green chillies, chopped 1 tsp honey About a tsp of salt (adjust to taste) 2 tbsp sesame oil 1 tsp black mustard seeds 1 tsp anise seeds (saunf) 1/2 tsp Nigella seeds 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
*Wash very well, and peel the turmeric rhizomes and then chop them into small pieces or sice them into thin roundels. You might want to use gloves on your hands while cutting turmeric because it can stain your hands a rather ugly and jaundiced yellow which just won’t wash away for quite some days! Put this, the ginger, green chillies, lime juice, honey and salt in a glass bowl. Mix well. Heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the anise seeds, nigella seeds and asafoetida powder and stir a couple of times and take it off the heat. Pour this into the pickle and mix very well. Check for salt and adjust to your taste. Transfer the pickle to a glass jar, and refrigerate till use. The pickle should be ready too use in a couple of days. This recipe makes one small jar of pickle.