Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Turmeric - Dhal GF SCD

Turmeric is believed to be one of the world's greatest natural healers and references to the spice can be found in the ancient Hindu scripture, Atharva-Veda. A principle spice in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric was also considered to be a valued ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine from about 700 A.D.

Associated with prosperity and fertility in India, the bride-to-be and her groom are painted with a turmeric paste as part of the traditional wedding rituals and, used as a vegetable dye, turmeric gave its colour to the bright golden orange robes of Buddhist monks. And did you know that a spoonful of turmeric added to the water in water-cooled radiators will stop leaks?

Part of the ginger family, turmeric (Curcuma longa Zingiberaceae) is a robust, bright, deep yellow rhizome similar in size and form to ginger. It has a peppery aroma and it's warm musky flavour has a slightly bitter after-taste. India is the world's major producer of turmeric. It doesn't tolerate temperatures below 18° C and is most suited to a tropical climate. So if you decided to try cultivating it in a colder climate, you would have to grow it indoors.

Medicinal Uses

The herb contains many health benefiting essential oils but it is Curcumin, the yellow pigment of turmeric, that is thought to be the power behind the spice's medicinal success. It has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, in clinical trials, it has been proved comparable to hydrocortisone but without the toxic side-effects. The conditions it has been used to treat include :

  • Crohn's Disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • cancer
  • high cholesterol
  • indigestion
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • cystic fibrosis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • poor liver function
  • gum inflammation

Be careful, however, not to take turmeric in more than culinary doses when breast feeding or pregnant OR if you suffer from gall stones or bile duct blockages.

Nutritional Benefits

The most important active ingredient in turmeric is Curcumin. However, this golden spice is also a good source of :

  • manganese
  • iron
  • vitamin B6
  • potassium
  • vitamin C
and contains trace amounts of :
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin K
  • thiamin
  • riboflavin
  • niacin
  • folate
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • zinc
  • copper

Cooking with Turmeric

If you can get hold of fresh turmeric, choose plump and clean rhizomes. I've never actually seen fresh turmeric. Used fresh or dried and ground, turmeric adds a vivid yellow colour to food. It is used in curries, curry powders and pastes, pickles (piccalilli), chutneys, vegetable rice and lentil dishes. Recipes on my blog which use turmeric are SCD onion BhajisOnion Bhajis and Cauliflower PakorasFalafel Burgers and Vegetarian Paella.


300g yellow split peas soaked overnight or chana dal (not SCD)
1.25l water (5 cups)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
½ fresh red chilli
2 tsps cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric
2 or 3 thin slices fresh ginger
1-2 tblsps extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sift through the yellow split peas and remove any grit, cover them in plenty of water and soak overnight. If you are using chana dal, it doesn't always need soaking so follow the instructions on the packet.
  • Drain and rinse thoroughly then pour into a heavy based pan. Add the water and bring to the boil.  Boil rapidly for ten minutes, this releases the gaseous chemicals. Using a spoon skim the foam from the water.
  • Turn down the light and cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes or until soft.
  • Thinly slice the ginger.
  • Chop the onions, crush the garlic and finely chop the chilli.
  • Meanwhile heat the oil in a thick based pan over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, fry for a few seconds then turn down the heat and add the garlic, onions and ginger.
  • Tip in the turmeric and chopped chilli and cook gently until soft.
  • When the split peas or chana dal is cooked and the water absorbed, pour the spice and onion mixture into the pan.
  • Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir well and serve.

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  1. Hello Vicky,

    Wow! I just love this post. And I love Turmeric. Yummy lentils!! I take turmeric capsules and it does work well for IBD. I just adore how you add in the medicinal and holistic properties of food. Great post! Very informative. Thank you so much for sharing this week on AFW.


  2. This is such great information . We love turmeric but it stains everything. Any idea how to get out the stains?

  3. Thanks Amber, its great to discover that it's actually helping someone!
    Judee, I'm glad you find the information useful! Apparently to get rid of the stains on clothes all you have to do is to wash with cold water and soap immediately then dry in the sun! The stain will then turn pink. If you wash again it should vanish. I know it can go with frequent washing because when I use my plastic immersion blender with anything containing turmeric it gets really badly stained, then over the weeks it just disappears with washing!

  4. fresh turmeric is sometimes available at our indian store.. but very rarely.
    love your nutrition and benefits write up.. it does help with inflammation, antibacterial uses and for soothing sore throats.. we always drink turmeric boiled in milk, now non dairy milk every night during a cold or sore throat.
    i would think with the daily turmeric intake in every meal there wouldnt be any cancer in India.. but i guess the quantity is still less to ward of all the huge number of carcinogens in so many things.

    love the daal. its such a comfort food for me. i;d rather eat a bowlful of daal and rice than chocolate or sweet when feeling down.

  5. Thanks Richa!I put a link about the cancer benefits since the research involves more than culinary quantities!I have read that Western diseases are possibly becoming more prevalent in India and developing countries possibly die to the increase in the use of polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

    I too like dhal for comfort food. This is such a simple recipe to make, especially with chana dal, it takes no time at all!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your great recipe on Allergy-Free Wednesdays. Isn't turmeric such an amazing spice? I cook with it often, so I will be making your recipe soon!

    Be sure to check back next week for recipe highlights (including the top 3 reader choice submissions and hostess favorites).

    Be Well!

  7. I do hope you get a chance to try it Laura! Thank you for visiting!

  8. I am really enjoying your wonderful herb and spice posts Vicky. I had heard turmeric was a real good for you spice in the past, but have struggled to incorporate it into my cooking. Thank you for the delicious recipes you shared as well as the interesting information!

  9. Hi Vicky,
    I love Turmeric and use it in several dishes. Your post is very informative about a great spice. Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  10. I use turmeric often, I love the color it gives to my meals. Although I have to be careful because if I touch it with my hand it dyes the skin around the nails and takes forever to go away. But worth it! hehe

  11. Turmeric is amazing. I lived in India for some part of my childhood and I remember eating fresh turmeric there. My mom would just chop it up like how you chopped up the ginger and give it to me with lemon / lime and a little salt. Often this was when I was sick because of the healing properties of turmeric.

    Great post! And thanks for sharing this week!! :)

  12. Thank you April and Miz Helen!
    Elsa, yes! it's a big big problem with turmeric!
    Raj, it's great to know you've actually experienced the fresh remedy! I will maybe go over to an Asian supermarket in Bradford and see if I can pick some up! Our local one closed down:(

  13. I really like tumeric so it is good to know that it is so good for us. Your dahl looks delicious. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of herbs and spices with us.

  14. We actually have a mini turmeric garden at home. So we can have it easily, any time we want. We usually use it when we cook chicken curry. Sooo love it!

  15. That's awesome! Thank you for visiting sweet lady!