Turmeric is cultivated in India, Indonesia, China, South America and the Caribbean. It is an ancient spice used as a flavour, natural colour and medicine. It dates back some 4,000 years in India where it had religious as well as culinary uses.
Turmeric is most commonly found in ready-ground form. Fresh turmeric is the root or rhizome. It has a thick middle section with small offshoots. These offshoots provide the finest quality turmeric. The flesh of the rhizome is orange but appears bright yellow when powdered. Turmeric smells earthy and peppery and tastes warm, pungent, slightly bitter and musky.
Turmeric is an essential ingredient in most curry powders and is commonly used in many Indian recipes. It is also popular in Middle Eastern cookery, particularly Moroccan. In Western cookery it is used as a colouring in sauces, processed foods and mustards.
Medicinally turmeric is used to fight infections, treat skin diseases and is used as a digestive, carminative and liver tonic.