Spice up your life with Turmeric (and maybe make it last longer)…
My housemates and my intake of salt is getting a bit ridiculous. I got told off at a restaurant the other day for asking for salt before I had even tried the dish (woops). Whilst reconsidering my need to consume this delicious flavour enhancer, I realised that I never use salt when cooking Indian or Moroccan dishes. Spices are the essence of these dishes and provide so much flavour and fullness to a meal, that apart from herb garnishes, no condiments are needed.
My favourite spice of the moment is Turmeric. Turmeric is as common in India as salt or pepper is for us. Not only does this vibrant, orange spice make your food taste wonderfully alive, it also has amazing medicinal effects. Traditionally in Hindu medicine, turmeric was used to treat sprains and swelling and modern medicine uses it today due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In fact, scientists now believe it may contribute to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease with the elderly Indian population having one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world.
If spices such as Turmeric can provide such amazing flavour as well as produce positive health benefits, I think we would all be better off incorporating it more into our cooking. I adapted the below recipe from an Indian cook book that one of my lovely colleagues in Mumbai sent me. It’s serious spice time!
Vegetable oil or ghee
1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds (not ground)
1 ½ teaspoons of chilli powder
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
2 teaspoons of amchoor*
2-3 green chillies, de-seeded and sliced
Half a pumpkin, chopped into cubes
1 teaspoon of sugar
3-4 big spinach leaves, sliced finely
Garnish with sliced green chillies and coriander
Serve with rice (I mixed in a small spoon of turmeric which produced this amazing yellow colour)
*Amchoor is a mango powder made from raw green mangos. I am sure you could find this from specialty shops however I just substituted with the juice of 2 limes which provided a lovely subtle tart flavour to the curry.
Pour a large lug of vegetable oil or ghee into a thick bottomed pan and add the fenugreek and cumin seeds. Fry for approximately 4-5 minutes until the seeds start popping. Add the remaining spices and cook for a further 5-6 minutes – you should be able to see and smell a curry like paste forming in your pot.
After this time, add the chillies and pumpkin and stir so that the paste coats all of the pumpkin. Place the lid on the pot and cook for 15-20 minutes. During this time, keep on stirring the dish and add small amounts of hot water if the paste is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the pumpkin is almost cooked, add the spinach and place the lid back on for 2 minutes.
Once cooked, garnish with sliced green chillies and coriander on top a bed of yellow rice. Enjoy!