Saturday, August 21, 2010

An answer for saturday

So yesterday I asked what the plant below is telling you it "was purchased in a supermarket and sits on the windowsill of (and from time to time gets used in) my kitchen."

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Its turmeric (the botanical name is Curcumis longa.) Turmeric is a rhizomatous perennial plant in the ginger family which basically means it spreads by branching rhizomes similar to the ginger roots one can buy in supermarkets. Turmeric rhizomes are as one might expect orange in colour and they are much thinner and more fragile than ginger roots. Turmeric roots can sometimes be bought in supermarkets which is how I got this - the turmeric went out of its bag and into some moist compost in the propagator. The root is usually transformed into powder for culinary use by boiling and then ovendrying then crushing but it can be used fresh which is how I plan to use mine when it grows a bit.

You can also use the leaves either in food itself (my old friend from Singapore, beef rendang here I come!) or as a wrapping for food parcels like fish where they will impart a subtle flavour. Looking forward to experimenting with that too. Here's a botanical drawing of the plant from Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen by Franz Eugen Köhler from 1897 which sort of shows the root structure.

As the name of Köhler's work suggests turmeric is also a medicinal plant. There are a lot of trials ongoing into the effect of curcumin (the useful chemical in turmeric) on Alzheimers, Cancer and a range of other ailments. Whilst I haven't seen any results yet it does seem to be pretty much accepted that consuming turmeric is a good thing. So there you have it. Easy to grow, attractive, tasty and healthy. Why not try some on your windowsill?

3 comments:

Indonesia Eats said...

Nice turmerice leaves you got there. Thanks for linking my beef rendang recipe.

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