"The greatest Indian cook in Britain"Jay Rayner "The Observer"
"Cook with love. Love your cooking" Gita Mistry

Friday, 20 March 2015


From time to time I will write little posts on spice that I regularly use when cooking.  According to Wikipedia: " The word spice comes from the Old French word espice, which became epice, and which came from the Latin root spec, the noun referring to "appearance, sort, kind": species has the same root" 

Spices are fun to use and allow my dishes to come alive with flavour, character, colour and celebration as my father used to say. Spices are used to preserve too. There are many medicinal values of spices and combinations of them create perfect solutions to comfort and cure the body from the common colds to healing the womb after pregnancy. For example a mixture of ground cumin, turmeric and salt gargled before bed time works wonders on a horsey cough and a slowen  throat. And I saw my mother cure a few of those. 

Today I will talk about turmeric. A relative of the ginger plant - it has many properties and tastes slightly bitter but I think of it as a soft bitter taste with a warm mild scent. It is referred to as Indian saffron and it is often used as a dye in textile.  The chemical in turmeric curcumin which is what gives turmeric its vibrant yellow colour is known have an antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties. According to research I carried out in India, people informed me of its ability to marry ingredients in a dish and how it enables other spices to sit well on the palate . A base spice.

I remember as a child having "haldi dhud" - turmeric milk .  Turmeric is known to have powerful antibacterial and anti- inflammatory properties. Helping to relieve pain; caused by muscle strain and swelling, it is referred to as the natural aspirin and a little everyday can be very beneficial for joint pain and headaches too. I named it "hunu dhud"Golden milk. I still have turmeric and ginger to manage my inflammation today and if I don't have it on a regular basis either in its dry ground or  fresh form my body is not best pleased-let me tell you.  Its especially good for skin care and can be mixed with gram flour and water to form a paste to use on your face. In Indian the haldi ceremony is a ritual performed before the marriage-using the paste to ex-foliate the skin 
for both the bride and groom. Its left on the skin until its dries and is then washed off with luke warm water- leaving the skin refreshed cleansed and smooth.

However I am warning you that it can stain your clothes, fingers and kitchen works tops! You can have too much of good thing, and if you do consume too much it can lead to you having the runs. Little and often is the best. Don t worry too much though as there is another cure for this which I may talk about another time.   

Here's a quick tasty turmeric relish which I have as a snack. Spread- onto any Indian bread with a roasted cumin papadom and drizzled with olive oil.  

Fresh turmeric( two pieces 6 cms long)- peeled & grated or ground to a paste
Green  peppercorns (10) ground to paste
Himaylayn pink salt
Pinch of chilli powder
Lemon juice 

Mix the ingredients together! Leave it all to sit in a jar for a few hours making sure the lemon juice covers the turmeric and peppercorns. Place in the fridge- bring it to room temperature, stir before devouring it - its simple but very tasty. Enjoy!

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