Turmeric (Curcuma longa or even “poor man’s saffron”) is the herbaceous plant from tropical areas of Asia. The rhizome of this plant is what’s been used for centuries. It looks like the ginger root, but its orange in the inside and also smells and tastes different than ginger. It is said to have bitter and sharp taste and bright orange when it’s cut on half. It is used as fresh root or it can be dried and then powdered.
Turmeric posses the color thanks to the color pigment curcumin, found in it. Because of the intensity of the color, turmeric is used in many Indian dishes and to make “mustard yellow” color. It is also used instead of saffron, to color the food, but it is much less expensive than saffron (thus the name “poor man’s saffron”). In many products that should be banana or lemon yellow, the color is achieved by adding some turmeric. So, next time you drink yellowish dairy drink, ice cream, dessert or some cereals, bakery or beverages – remember what gave the color to the product.
Turmeric can be used as the spice, also. As such it can be found in many products, as well, including dry mixes, relishes, sausages, fish, pickles, sauces etc.
Except the color and spice, turmeric is also very useful in medicine. It is proven to be natural antiseptic, disinfectant and antibacterial agent. Because of that, turmeric powder can be used to treat some cuts or burns, to prevent infections and speed up the recovery of the damaged tissue.
Asthma patients might also use this herb, for it can decrease bronchi spasms present in this disease. Persistent cough and phlegm may also be treated with turmeric, because of the expectorant properties of this herb.
Stomach disorders and intestinal worms could also be cured using turmeric, especially raw turmeric root juice.
Turmeric paste is said to be beneficial for the liver.
This herb can be (and it is) used in many beauty preparations, especially combined with milk and sandalwood. This combination is believed to rejuvenate the skin, leaving it glowing and looking younger.
Are There Some Turmeric Substitutes
Well, there is nothing that can be used instead of turmeric that will produce the exact same effects. Turmeric is proven to be very specific, with its many uses.
However, some turmeric effects might be reproduced (to some extent). If you want some flavor and color in your dishes, and you suddenly ran out of turmeric, you might want to try dry mustard powder instead. Another option is to add some fenugreek with dry mustard powder. This combination may be little bit more fragrant, but still won’t give exactly the same taste as turmeric.
If you don’t have some fresh turmeric there is always turmeric oil or dried turmeric powder available on the market. Sometimes these products may be good substitutes for the color and taste of the fresh turmeric.
Curry powder, especially home-made versions, might be exactly what you were looking for to use, instead of some fresh turmeric. However, remember that you will have to use 4 times more curry powder than you would normally use turmeric.